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‘Waste tourism’ fears over Scottish landfill testing delay

A decision by the Scottish Government not to establish the loss on ignition (LoI) test for the lower landfill tax rate until next year has been met with disappointment by the industry.

From April 2015 in England, the LoI test will be used to determine whether waste resulting from recycling processes, grit and screenings can be eligible for the £2.50/tonne rate.

Landfill tax has been devolved to Scotland, overseen by Revenue Scotland, and it was initially thought it would follow England’s step. But it now transpires the regime has been put on hold in order to allow waste companies time to set up the appropriate testing system.

This leads to the possibility that some English companies could chose to send waste across the border to avoid having to carry out time-consuming tests.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “There are no plans for mandatory LoI testing in the first year of a Scottish landfill tax.

“This is to allow industry time to procure relevant equipment and/or arrange for appropriate contracts to be put in place.

“The Scottish Government intends to consult on legislating for such testing in the coming year. 

“We understand that Revenue Scotland is currently drafting its guidance in this area which will include reference to LoI testing for screening fines.”

Stephen Freeland, policy adviser for the Scottish Environmental Services Association, said: “The industry has long pressed for a more scientific and objective approach to determining the tax status of trommel fines, and in this regard we are disappointed that LoI is unlikely to be applied across the UK at the same time.

“Of course, the existing requirement on landfill operators to undertake pre-acceptance checks on incoming loads will remain.

“However, landfill operators and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency will need to remain vigilant for evidence of ‘waste tourism’ until LoI is formally adopted in Scotland.”

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