Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget is surely the last opportunity left for the Government to spell out what happens to landfill tax after the escalator reaches its destination of £80 per tonne from next month.
Opinion is divided about what to do next. On the one hand, a group of plastic manufacturers called in November for the tax to be increased to £200. On the other, local government leaders want the rate frozen, arguing that the tax hits the pockets of individual households to the tune of £30 a year and they also want more of the proceeds diverted to community recycling.
Others - Veolia’s UK head Estelle Brachlianoff is one - argue that a policy neither sustaining the tax nor increasing it to offset inflation would be a backward step.
Although it is unlikely, Osborne might also venture into our sector about the Green Investment Bank, amid calls for it to be able to adopt a more mature role and borrow from the capital markets. A group of Liberal Democrats went further, wanting the bank to be given powers to regulate a national plan for the development of relevant infrastructure, including waste management projects. It may or not be the answer, but we need greater strategic direction from the Government and it is worth discussing.
Still on a political note, Defra’s communications team has maintained its reputation as one of the most savvy in Whitehall when it comes to social media. It staged an hour-long Twitter session on Wednesday, with resource minister Dan Rogerson tweeting on waste regulation, enforcement and crime. Cue a grilling on TEEP, Environment Agency spending cuts and other topics of the moment. Frustrating for those who did not get an answer
(such as MRW) but an exercise certainly worth repeating.