Just as we were looking forward to the Jubilee weekend, something comes along to spoil our weekend. No - I’m not talking about the rain; it’s a Bank Holiday, of course it’s going to rain… I’m talking about the scandalous way that the government and HMRC have gone about increasing landfill tax by almost 2500% virtually overnight - and the resultant protest from the waste management industry.
Landfill Tax was increased from £2.50 to £64 per tonne for certain types of waste with practically no consultation with the industry. The worst part of this is that the change was brought in in such a way that many small companies now stand to lose huge amounts of money on skips that they have already hired out - with some family-run companies facing bankruptcy.
Shadow Waste Minister Gavin Shuker is on record as saying this is a “scandalous tax hike on small businesses”.
Now the industry is striking back, having held a meeting of skip hire companies just outside London on Wednesday 30th and with a meeting in the Houses of Parliament on Thursday 31st. One of the things discussed is the possibility of blockades in the city of London over the Jubilee weekend - with potential action in other cities, including Manchester and Edinburgh.
HMRC’s website says: “Landfill Tax is a tax on the disposal of waste. It aims to encourage waste producers to produce less waste, recover more value from waste… and to use more environmentally friendly methods of waste disposal.”
Unfortunately, in this case, “encouraging developers to produce less waste” also means a reduction in the amount of viable land for much-needed housing and business developments. The less cost effective you make it to remove invasive species like Japanese knotweed, the more you stop people from doing it - and as the soil containing Japanese knotweed rhizome will ALWAYS be considered as controlled waste, you are also dis-incentivising developers from treating their knotweed at all.
Don’t get me wrong - we’re in favour of reducing waste. Many of the things we do as a nation are unsustainable and need to change, but this overnight increase is not the way to do it. It will only hurt businesses and the economy - and it will probably hurt our countryside too.
Those companies who do survive will obviously pass the price increase on to consumers - which will lead to increased fly-tipping - one of the major causes of the spread of Japanese knotweed.
This is going to be a double whammy for those trying to get rid of Japanese knotweed. We’re going to see responsible developers priced out of dealing with their knotweed problems and less responsible landowners with every incentive to dump their waste illegally - thus spreading the problem.
Supporting Small Businesses?
HMRC offer land remediation relief to companies who deal with their Japanese knotweed problems - but they don’t offer any incentives to landfill owners to take this material, or to make excavation treatments viable. Offering preferential rates for getting rid of the things we most need to dispose of would be a sensible way forward.
If the government cares about controlling the spread of Japanese knotweed in our country, then it shouldn’t put land owners in a position where their only financially viable options are to do nothing or to break the law.
If the government wants to support small businesses, then it can’t put them in a position where they face huge unexpected costs for work they have already done - without even consulting them first.
If the government is serious about getting private investment working, then it has to make building and infrastructure project as attractive as possible - otherwise that money is going to stay in the bank accounts of big business - where it helps nobody.
If the government truly believes in British business, it needs to make another u-turn - this time on Landfill Tax.
If you agree, feel free to sign this petition against the tax: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/landfill-tax