The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s 4th Report – Autumn Statement 2012: Environmental Issues received written evidence from UKWIN and Chris Edwards (External Research Associate at the University of East Anglia, Norwich) which made the case for a tax on incineration, and the idea was endorsed by Friends of the Earth in their oral evidence.

Paragraph 42 of the Committee’s Report states that: “A number of ideas for new environmental taxes were suggested to us that could be used by the Treasury to increase the proportion of environmental taxes. An incinerator tax was favoured by some, which would embed the ‘polluter pays’ principle into the cost of waste disposal and encourage the reduction or recycling of waste materials. It would also meet the Government’s definition of an environmental tax. The Campaign to Protect Rural England suggested a charge on single-use carrier bags in England, primarily to reduce litter and cut environmental damage…”

This means that, in the Committee’s view, an incinerator tax would help the Government fulfil the pledge in the Coalition Programme for Government to: “…increase the proportion of tax revenue accounted for by environmental taxes”. As previously reported on the UKWIN website, Eunomia Director Mike Brown has previously made the case that the attraction for an incineration tax “could be irresistible”.

The Committee stated at Paragraph 43 of the Report that: “We repeat our July 2011 recommendation that to build greater stakeholder confidence, the Treasury should publish progress yearly against the Coalition Agreement commitment to increase the proportion of environmental taxes using both its definition and that of the Office for National Statistics.”

Interestingly, the Committee also recommended at Paragraph 13 of their report that: “We support the Rio+20 commitment to eliminate environmentally harmful subsidies, and call on the Government to set out how it will implement this agenda in the UK. In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor should set out a timetabled programme for eliminating such subsides, and explain why North Sea tax allowances announced during 2012 should not be regarded as subsidies”. This is in line with the UKWIN’s position that the Government should end direct and indirect subsidies to incineration as they are environmentally harmful.

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