In a move away from their role ensuring that Scotland’s natural resources and services are used as sustainably as possible and contributing to our sustainable economic growth, SEPA have chosen to promote the lower rate of landfill tax of £2.70/tonne for Non-Hazardous soil rather than the intended standard rate at £86.10/tonne (April 2017).
Their rationale appears to stem from the fact that they have failed to enforce the statutory controls to prevent environmental pollution and harm to human health at Paragraph 19 Exemption sites. These sites are permitted to accept inert waste material for construction purposes under an exemption from waste management legislation but it appears that some of these sites may have inadvertently disposed of contaminated soils, which you’ll not be surprised to know is a breach of their exemption.
Rather than regulate these sites or restrict who they actually give the exemptions to (yep, they actually administer the regime, I kid you not) they would rather promote cheap landfill through the application of the lower rate of landfill taxation in their belief that the problem will simply disappear. I have heard of Ostriches burying their heads in sand but a an environmental regulator doing the same in waste…!
Quoting SEPA’s web site they claim to “…protect and improve the Scottish environment by using a combination of legislation and good practice measures.” Furthermore “Good environmental practices can lead to economic benefits for business and for Scotland.” Great news if you own a landfill site or a fleet of lorries but rubbish (sorry about the pun…!) if you recycle soil for the good of our environment.
So what about the rest of our waste challenges…? Will SEPA renege on the ban preventing scrap tyres from being landfilled, or will they permit the burning of waste to prevent fly tipping…? Who knows and indeed who actually cares, but if you’re one of the few that do why not drop your local MSP an email or go straight to the top and email our ‘head burying’ Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment – Richard Lochhead expressing your concerns and ask him to get SEPA to change this madness.
And what about the recycling industry…? Well we’re off to recycle our 2014 Vibes Award for the Circular Economy, presented to us by the Chair of SEPA for recycling contaminated soils (no I’m not joking…!). The best idea for what to do with it will win a day trip to a local landfill site to see perfectly recyclable soils being dumped with all the other wastes…!