Landfill Tax Refund to Help Brownfield Redevelopment

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Today (July 21), the government announced its intention to introduce grants to alleviate the costs of landfill tax, with the aim of reducing barriers to brownfield redevelopment.

A four-week ‘call for evidence’ will first seek opinions on the need for and design of a program to help councils overcome tax restrictions. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will also welcome advice on how to ensure that a grant scheme would not undermine the waste hierarchy or encourage illegal dumping.

Grant applicants will need to demonstrate that the use of the landfill is ‘reasonably necessary’ and that ‘steps have been taken to minimize the amount of waste that will be landfilled’.

Brownfields – land previously developed and no longer in use – may be of interest to local authorities, consultants, planners and developers who wish to redevelop, remediate and protect land affected by contamination.

In some cases, where it is not possible to remediate contaminated land without sending the waste to landfill, the landfill tax can “act as a significant barrier to redevelopment”.

Defra’s proposals, potentially implemented as early as the fall, seek to remedy this, making it easier for more homes and businesses to develop on brownfields. The changes, the ministry says, will also protect the environment and public health.

The landfill tax was first introduced in 1996 to prevent waste from being sent to landfill and to encourage recycling, reuse and recovery. Currently the tax is assessed at £98.60 per tonne, with a lower rate of £3.15 for the least polluting material. The policy is widely seen as a success, says Defra – local authority waste sent to landfill in England has fallen by 90% since 2000.

Defra therefore concluded that by targeting subsidies where the landfill tax would otherwise have prevented remediation on commercial terms, “any program would seek to be cost-neutral”.

Environment Minister Lord Benyon said: “This grant will help councils build new homes and businesses on derelict sites, delivering more homes and regenerating towns.

“The landfill tax has done a fantastic job of preventing unnecessary waste – but it’s important that it doesn’t act as a barrier to regeneration.”

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Alan Mak added: “Ensuring communities across England have the tools to transform their local areas is at the heart of our Upgrading mission.

“I’m excited that we’re exploring this bold new program that could remove unintended barriers for local authorities who want the best for their communities, while protecting our natural environment from contamination.”


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