Risk of recycling ‘crisis’ as UK Government ‘deaf’ to red diesel ban concerns, says RMAS

The body representing Scottish SME resource and waste management operators says recycling services across the country are ‘under threat’ following the UK Government’s ‘refusal’ to exempt the sector from today’s (1 April) cutting of the red diesel exemption.

The comments follow an exchange between Resource Management Association Scotland (RMAS) and the Scotland Office about the impact of the ban on recycling and waste operators.

RMAS claims the ending of the red diesel exemption, combined with a further rise in the oil price due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will drive up operating costs by more than 15% for its member companies which are facing additional fuel expenses of up to £400,000 per year.

The organisation has also highlighted environmental concerns, saying the ending of the exemption will ‘encourage illegal operators to undercut compliant businesses through fly-tipping and other forms of illegal waste dumping’.

RMAS said the lack of suitable fuel alternatives meant companies would be forced to use higher priced white diesel with escalating costs either driving operators out of business or impacting on consumers.

After failing to secure any support for our sector, this policy has now gone live threatening the viability of recycling and waste management services across Scotland.

In its letter to the Scotland Office, RMAS asked for additional support to offset the impact of the ban to ensure the sector would be able to could carry out work in support of government net zero targets.

This included a request to allow resource and waste management companies to continue using red diesel – in line with agriculture, horticulture, fish farming and forestry sector businesses – until viable fuel alternatives are in place.

The letter follows a cross-sector letter sent earlier this month to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, urging for a review of tax treatment for red diesel.

Brian Ritchie, Chair of RMAS said: “Today may be April Fool’s Day but unfortunately the Red Diesel ban is no joke. We’re extremely disappointed that our appeal to the UK Government over its flawed plans seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

“After failing to secure any support for our sector, this policy has now gone live threatening the viability of recycling and waste management services across Scotland.

“The Scotland Office has failed to recognise the important role our members play in helping deliver government net zero targets. There also appears to be a lack of understanding from ministers that resource and waste management companies were exempted from any additional funding support measures given to the mining, quarry and construction sectors to help develop new fuel alternatives.

“The simple fact is there are few viable fuel alternatives meaning our members will be unable to transition away from diesel in the foreseeable future. Using higher priced white diesel means major costs rises will need to be passed on to consumers adding to the current cost of living crisis. These rising costs also threaten the viability of businesses which will directly impact on the level of recycling and waste management services across Scotland and the nation’s environmental stewardship.”

The Resource Management Association Scotland (RMAS) is a not-for-profit, non-political membership organisation for micro, small and medium sized resource management companies operating in Scotland.

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