Councils to be hit by ‘£1 billion increase’ in landfill taxes
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The amount of money councils spend on disposing of the nation’s rubbish is set to go up by more than £1 billion in the next few years, as taxes for sending waste to landfill increase, council leaders warned today.
The Local Government Association (LGA) fears the increasing costs of landfill tax and tougher rules on waste could hit other frontline local services.
And with town halls facing large fines from the EU if they do not meet targets to cut the levels of waste sent to landfill by 2013, the LGA is warning the Government it must take action now to stop council taxpayers being hit with a rising bill for dealing with rubbish.
The LGA wants the money raised through landfill taxes – which aim to reduce the amount of rubbish going into the ground instead of being recycled or used to create energy – to go back to councils to help them meet the 2013 targets.
Councils could use the money to invest in new technology such as plants which generate energy from waste, or industrial scale composting, which would cut the amount of rubbish going to landfill.
Local authorities are expected to spend £4.2 billion on waste management by 2013, up £1.1 billion on current levels of £3.1 billion, with annual increases in the amount they have to pay to throw rubbish in the ground.
Gary Porter, chairman of the LGA environment board, said: “Councils face an ever increasing bill for getting rid of the nation’s rubbish.
“By going back on its undertaking to refund to councils the money raised through landfill tax, at current rates, the Government will hit councils with an estimated £620 million bill this year alone.”
He continued: “Already, councils are introducing new supermarket style points schemes to reward people for recycling more and working with businesses to set tough targets for cutting the waste going into people’s bins.
“Recycling rates have more than doubled in the last five years and with money from landfill tax, councils could do even more.”
The LGA is taking their case to the Government today at a waste summit with Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, where he will lay out efforts to drive the UK towards being a “zero waste nation”.
The Environment Department (Defra) is launching six new pilot schemes around the country which will help areas to reduce their waste through steps such as working with schools to encourage children to recycle and getting families on housing estates to put their food waste in communal composting facilities.
The Government is also planning to halve the amount of waste going to landfill in the next decade and aims to ban some recyclable and compostable items from landfill sites to boost recycling rates and cut climate emissions caused by throwing rubbish in the ground.
Mr Benn said: “The landfill tax is playing an important role in ensuring that local authorities businesses send less waste to landfill and move towards a more sustainable method of waste management.
“We’re all recycling more, with households now recycling 37% of their waste and they should be congratulated on that, but we all need to do more – Government, local authorities, business and the public – this is what the summit is about.”
And he said: “We’re supporting local authorities in bringing in new technology and have invested over £2.5 billion through the Defra waste PFI scheme, helping councils harness the power of energy from waste.
“The Chancellor also announced in the Budget £10 million for anaerobic digestion projects to top up the £30 million grant scheme run by Wrap.
“This will allow an additional 300,000 tonnes of additional food waste to be processed every year and avoid landfill.”