The Scotland Act 2012, amongst other things, devolved to the Scottish Parliament powers to determine the tax regime for disposals to landfill. The Scottish Government has acted on that power by introducing a Bill (on 17 April) which proposes that Scotland will have its own landfill tax regime, to replace the currently applicable UK-wide regime.
The Bill as promoted proposes the transfer or responsibility for administration of landfill taxes to the Scottish Government effective from April 2015. While maintaining the best aspects of the current UK-wide regime, the Bill proposes an "innovative approach" to landfill tax unique to Scotland. Prime amongst its aims are deterrence of illegal dumping, and encouragement of legal and effective disposal and recycling of waste streams intended, or suitable, for landfill. SEPA will be responsible for administration and collection of the tax. The amount of tax will be determined by Scottish Ministers.
The Bill has also promoted a Scottish communities fund, to "support environmental organisations and provide assistance to communities living in close proximity to landfill sites".
Finance Secretary John Swinney said, “Today we have taken a further step toward setting a new landfill tax for Scotland which will better reflect Scottish values and Scottish circumstances. I am eager to use this opportunity to ensure that landfill tax, environmental protection legislation, regulation and compliance regimes are all aligned and working in the best interests of our environment and our economy. One opportunity this opens for Scotland would be to increase the amount that is invested in the communities fund to improve surroundings and mitigate against the impact landfill has on communities."
James Curran, SEPA Chief Executive, said “The Scottish Landfill Tax will encourage waste minimisation and support the development of alternative waste technologies and re-using waste as a resource. It will also help create a level playing field for operators by tackling the problem of illegal waste dumping."
On the same day as the Bill was introduced, the Scottish Government launched the "Resource Efficient Scotland" programme. That programme aims to "bring together expertise on managing energy, water and materials costs into a single service" providing "support to businesses, third sector and public sector organisations to reduce overheads through improved energy, material resource and water efficiency, and in doing so it will help cut carbon across public and private sectors organisations". The programme will be run by Zero Waste Scotland.
It is hoped that together these measures, and others besides, will make a significant contribution to Scotland's green credentials, as well as providing support to businesses to help save money and improve competitiveness.