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No level playing field = no green growth!

30th July 2012 Posted by

The potential for green growth in the UK is significant as we transform from landfilling the majority of our waste to the more sustainable options of recycling and recovering energy from it. For this change to be realised, around £20 billion needs to be invested over the next ten years in modern technology and infrastructure. If we manage to achieve this, it is estimated that over 80,000 new jobs could be created and the construction industry could receive a much needed injection of new projects. As is always the case, however, investors will only commit their funds if they are confident that the underlying market is stable and this is especially true for the waste industry which needs high levels of capital investment.

To create market stability, the Government – once it had adopted the European Union legislation favouring landfill diversion – introduced Landfill Tax. This tax was designed to encourage waste producers to move away from landfilling towards recycling and recovery. With the present rate at £64 per tonne, the tax is doing what it was introduced to do and waste producers are seeking better alternatives. However, as with all taxes, the higher the level the more temptation there is for some to try to avoid paying what is due.

Some members of the waste industry are incorrectly classifying ‘active’ waste as ‘inert’, which means they are landfilling at dramatically reduced cost. Waste that is classed as inert can be landfilled at a cost of just £2.50 per tonne.   The exploitation that has been taking place has forced HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) recently to clarify the landfill tax legislation to the market.

Discussions are continuing between HMRC and the waste industry to find more objective ways of defining whether waste that has been through a pre-treatment process is still ‘active’ and should therefore attract the higher tax of £64 per tonne or if it can be classed as ‘inert’ and taxed at £2.50 per tonne.

What may not yet be fully appreciated by the Authorities is that without clarity and adherence to regulations, the level playing field that is required to attract and sustain inward investment to the industry is lost. This inevitably leads to a reduction in new infrastructure, a lack of green growth and a continuation of landfilling.

If the Environmental Agency fails to enforce permit conditions or HMRC does not prevent tax avoidance, the market becomes unstable. If the Government wants green growth and a sustainable future it should tackle the issues around tax avoidance within the waste industry.  This will enable reputable companies to invest in a sustainable future and will deliver significantly improved returns in new tax receipts.

3 comments on "No level playing field = no green growth!"

  • I am sorry, from where I am sitting, this is lobbying! It is well known that there is a ‘gold rush’ on by waste companies, all trying to grab decades of bizarre government subsidies (rocs), turning otherwise unviable plants into huge profit markers. Sita is just as guilty as others, and as I suspect, a key lobbyer, by creating these daft landfill taxes in order to make it easier for them to build subsidy burners.

    I live in Shepperton, Surrey, where Sita, unfortunately has a contract with Surrey County council. Surrey has a waste pfi grant, that had hit major problems and was expiring, so was absolutely desperate to pass a waste facility under any means, in order to save paying DEFRA back millions of pounds for its failures. This has in itself made it act in an appalling way.

    Sita is forcing through, with it’s hand in hand crime partner Surrey, the most highly inefficient incinerator possible! It is less than 14% efficient at best, compared to the far superior Grundon plant at nearby Colnbrook, where some of Surrey’s waste already goes, which is over 65% efficient. The proposed gasifier incinerator at Charlton Lane Shepperton is legally classed as DISPOSAL by the EU waste directive, as low as it can be, level with landfill, yet giving sita far more profit! It fails the most basic R1 test. It will actually take waste away from the much greener plant at Colnbrook, and why…because Sita wants to make more profit fom the waste, which is otherwise going to Grundon’s!

    Sita and Surrey have acted in a very underhand way in the whole process of Charlton Lane, out of desperation. Proved to have mislead the public by the ASA. Your planning manager Gareth Philips clearly stated at a linked planning meeting for ‘retention of the current facilities’ that the enlargement of the current site, absorbing more virgin greenbelt, was purely for ‘tree management’ …yet we all were fully aware that the trees were to be felled and concreted over for the linked (proved by documentation) Eco park application…now in my eyes that makes him and Sita blatant liars? What do you say?

    Gasification is a failing technology, and should be dropped, the 2 UK plants have both been disasters, Dumfries and the Isle of Wight. In fact Ascot environmental who designed and supplied Scotgen at Dumfries has gone bust, and Energos on the Isle of Wight has gone bust too….that’s how good gasification is. And exactly how many emmission breaches has the reference plant at Dumfries had? SEPA states it is Scotlands worst polluter! Even after its new boilers were fitted. The Isle of Wight is so bad, the local councils are trying stop using their gasifier. Yet Sita is keen to force another experimental gasifier onto more communities, because it is stick in contracts to build 6 in the UK. This time, unsafely in a highly residential area, with 19 local schools and nurseries in the drop zone admitted by Sita. All other gasifiers and waste plants are in remote areas with no access to the public, yet here, the public are allowed on site! This is criminal.

    We approached the secretary of state for the environment, Eric Pickles to ‘call in’, and after many months of holding onto the application, he chooses not to, even after inside knowledge told us that he would have no choice but to call it in. Bizarely with no explanation. So after a bit of googling, it is revealed that Sita sponsored speaches by Pickles at Conservative party conferences in the past few years….say no more!

    Sita I am disgusted by what I have seen of you in this whole episode, the levels stooped to have been lower than the place on the waste hierarchy where this failure sits. It is very clear that this is purely for Sita profit, not green or Eco as you would like to make out, taking full advantage of Surrey’s desperate situation.

    I hope the truth comes out and stings all concerned, it is obvious that if it does ever get built, it will be a disaster like its sister plants.

    And how bizarre that government roc subsidies for Gasifiction have just risen for no apparent reason…..other than perhaps waste companies lobbying….that is what it appears to me!

    I look forward to your response!

    • Thank you for your comments and feedback.

      As a UK-wide operator with a global parent company, SITA UK has considerable technical expertise and experience in operating a number of different types of facility. Our technical experts have thoroughly assessed the technologies proposed and we’re confident that gasification is the right solution for Surrey.

      If you have any further questions, then our SITA Surrey team will be happy to answer them.

  • Thankyou for your brief, pure spin response. I have no intention of speaking with the Sita Surrey people, I find them a bit sparse with reality! This is not the solution for Surrey, as you suggest, this is SITA’s desperation to find sites for the inefficient gasifiers that it has signed a contract with the manufacturer for.

    So you are basically saying, that Sita is willing to burn unsorted waste in a highly inefficient (less than 14% according to your technical experts) purely for profit, milking subsidies, in a highly residential greenbelt and sensitive location, within an AQMA! It is very clear that Sita is actually pulling our waste from far superior disposal with Grundon’s purely for profit, so Sita can make more money from our waste than giving it to competitor Grundon!

    There is nothing green or Eco about your Surrey proposal, all pure bull, this is and always has been about money. You have been Sussed well and truly now, and it will be coming back to sting you and your French (not Global) company.

    Now that the truth is out about SITA’s real intentions, the thoughts of a creek and paddle spring to mind.
    Sita is a disgrace of a company!

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