HC Deb 09 February 1993 vol 218 c548W
Mr. Fabricant

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will publish the report commissioned by his Department last year on landfill costs and pricing; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean

I have today published a report commissioned by my Department from Coopers and Lybrand on "Landfill Pricing: Correcting Possible Market Distortions".

We indicated in the 1992 environment White Paper, "This Common Inheritance: the Second Year Report", Cm. 2068, that we would in future make a presumption in favour of using economic instruments rather than regulation to achieve environmental objectives. This report forms part of the Government's programme of work to explore the use of economic instruments in environmental policy. It also constitutes a preliminary response to a recommendation by the advisory committee on business and the environment that the price of landfill should be increased substantially.

The report examines current and projected waste disposal costs; assesses the impact of introducing a levy on waste going to landfill; and considers ways of implementing it. It predicts that landfill costs will rise substantially before the year 2000 even in the absence of a levy. It concludes that the introduction of a levy would be feasible. Its main effect, in the longer term, would be to increase the incentive to send waste to incinerators rather than landfill, but it would also make materials recycling more commercially attractive.

We are considering the findings of the report, along with those of a parallel study of "Economic Instruments and the Recovery of Resources from Waste", published by my Department and the Department of Trade and Industry in December 1992. My Department is inviting comments on the landfill levy report by 26 March 1993.

I have arranged for a copy of the report to be placed in the Library of the House.