Environment Agency consults on waste shipment charges
The Environment Agency has launched a public consultation on updating current charges for regulating notified international waste shipments.
It intends the new scheme to be more reflective of and proportionate to the activities the Environment Agency carries out. Currently, the cost of the Agency’s regulatory activities is greater than the fees it charges to waste importers and exporters.
The amended charges will come into force on 1 April 2024 and will apply to exports and imports of notified waste from and to England.
The last time the charges were amended was in 2012. However, the Agency says that the costs of regulation have increased in the last decade due to market trends and policies to improve environmental standards.
The consultation has been launched to make certain the Environment Agency has the appropriate resources to provide a quality service and its customers pay the right amount for the work it does to ensure the protection of the environment and human health.
Steve Molyneux, Environment Agency Deputy Director of Waste Regulation, said: “Notification controls are crucial – they allow us to work with the UK’s waste industry and our partners around the world to ensure waste movements are correctly managed and don’t cause harm to the environment.
“Currently, the cost of these regulatory activities is greater than the fees we charge. We have a responsibility to avoid passing on costs to the taxpayer and a commitment to fairness and transparency.
“Our proposed changes will reflect the full cost of the chargeable services we provide – ensuring we continue to protect the environment internationally, as well as people’s health, safety and wellbeing.”
Proposed changes to waste shipment charges
The consultation proposes to update charges annually in line with inflation to maintain full cost recovery, using the Office for National Statistics measure of Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation as of 30 September in the immediately preceding year. Any increase to charges will be equal to or less than this – increases will be lower if the Environment Agency believes its increased costs do not equate to the CPI measure.
How does the Environment Agency spend the charges?
The Environment Agency spends its income from charges on processing applications, data reporting and compliance work to ensure shipments are lawful and do not pose a risk to the environment. It has a responsibility to recover fully the costs of its regulatory activities via charges, avoiding costs being carried by the taxpayer.
The Environment Agency inspected 1,390 containers of waste in the 2021/22 financial year. Of these, 260 were returned to their site of loading which, combined with the Environment Agency’s regulatory interventions at waste sites, prevented the illegal export of more than 19,000 tonnes of waste.
Those found to be exporting waste and not complying with legislative requirements can face two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine on successful conviction.