Landfill tax: disposals not made at landfill sites, etc

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:45 pm ar 16 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2:45, 16 Ionawr 2018

Fine. The point I am trying to make is that landfill capacity across the UK has decreased from thousands of sites, with only about 50 sites predicted to be in operation by 2020. Although we have talked about the period of time that our proposed reviews should cover, it is crucial that this one takes place not once, but regularly. The issue is serious, as I have set out.

Crucially, regional capacity also varies greatly, and the Government are not tackling that. This review will help us to identify the differences in a systematic way. For example, Kent is likely to have no landfill sites at all by 2021, according to SUEZ, which suggests that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs does not have the resources to look at its concerns. Perhaps if the tax was sent in the right direction, the Department would have the capacity. Although it is not his Department, I ask the Financial Secretary what contingency planning DEFRA has put in place in case the record on recycling worsens. It is important that the suggestion of a review is taken into account.

This proposal extends charges to illegal landfill. Illegal landfill will only increase if we begin to produce more waste than our capacity can handle. How does the Minister plan to deal with excess waste that surpasses our current capacity? He may want to pass that question on to one of his hon. Friends. Under the Prime Minister’s plan, by of which year will the UK end the use of landfill completely? How are we going to keep tabs on that, and what systematic process will we use? If we use the same methodology that the Chancellor used to get the deficit down, we will all be pushing up daisies by the time it is sorted. We hope that the clause will ensure that landfill waste falls, across both permitted and illegal sites, but the Government seem to be unable to tell us exactly how much landfill will be diverted into ecologically sound management as a result. Perhaps the Minister can enlighten us about those projections.

That is why we have tabled a new clause that is designed to establish how much revenue this measure will generate, as well as to measure the behavioural impact that it sets out to achieve. Our suggested review would look at the impact of extending landfill tax on the volume of disposals at both permitted and illegal sites. Alongside that, we believe it is important to measure the impact on the prevalence of illegal sites, as well as the amount of waste disposed at them. Everybody on the Committee recognises the importance of consigning landfill to the dustbin of history. To do so would deliver unquantifiable ecological effects and would, we hope, form part of a new respect shown by our society for the environment on which we rely.

Extending taxation to illegal sites will deliver a reduction in landfill, and it can therefore only be a good thing. I commend the Financial Secretary for introducing this measure. It is all the more important that the Government monitor and assess the impact of the measure, as well as investing revenue to ensure that it is enforced. We hope that all Members present today will support our review, in the name of good governance, to ensure that the UK continues to take steps towards no longer producing damaging and unnecessary landfill.