The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has expressed its deep concern about proposed changes to the Landfill Communities Fund, announced by the Chancellor in his Spending Review and Autumn Statement last week.
The Spending Review and Autumn Statement were accompanied by the publication of the Government’s response to the Landfill Communities Fund consultation from earlier in the year.
This included a previously unforeseen, and potentially damaging, proposal to remove landfill operators’ ability to use third party contributors to make up the 10% shortfall in landfill tax payments to community projects under the scheme, which will cost the industry around £4 million each year.
“A mere four months’ notice provides landfill operators with little time to budget, particularly when their planning timescales tend to be around five years in advance, and when some individual operators are facing unforeseen annual costs of over £500,000″
ESA’s executive director, Jacob Hayler, said: “The Landfill Communities Fund has supported over 50,000 community and environmental projects across the UK, with funds totalling £1.2 billion.
“The Government’s proposed change is likely to jeopardise the future of the scheme, thereby removing this vital funding source for local projects whilst also leading to job losses at the Environmental Bodies.
“A mere four months’ notice provides landfill operators with little time to budget, particularly when their planning timescales tend to be around five years in advance, and when some individual operators are facing unforeseen annual costs of over £500,000.”
In September 2014 the Government announced it intended to “improve” the Landfill Communities Fund, after finding funds weren’t reaching communities as quickly as they should.
Figures showed that overall environmental bodies did not meet Government’s challenge to reduce their unspent funds by 25% by April 2014, with funds only being reduced by 17%.
The Landfill Communities Fund was introduced alongside the Landfill Tax in 1996 and allows landfill site operators to claim a credit against their landfill tax liability for voluntary contributions made directly to environmental bodies.
Environmental bodies then use these contributions to fund a variety of projects such as maintenance or improvement of public amenities and conservation of species or habitats.