A critical evaluation of the Landfill Tax and the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme in driving sustainable waste management in England and Wales

  • John Rhys Morris

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The UK Landfill Tax was introduced by the Finance Act 1996 as an economic measure to discourage the use of landfill as a waste management option and to encourage a more sustainable approach in which less waste is produced and more waste is reused or recycled. A tax credit scheme was also introduced in order that a proportion of the money raised by the tax could be directed to Environmental Bodies to be used for approved environmental projects. The published papers submitted with this thesis evaluate the effectiveness of the operation of Landfill Tax and Landfill Tax Credit Scheme in a legal context by drawing upon a range of sources including the reviews of the Tax, data for Entrust and surveys conducted by the author. The Landfill Tax and Landfill Tax Credit Scheme is a tax law that is multi dimensional with environmental, social, economic, fiscal and political aspects. Like most law it seeks to change or control the behaviour of individuals and institutions but unlike most laws relating to taxation it had the potential for greater public acquiescence by a ‘double dividend’ by seeking to reduce landfill and encourage a more sustainable approach and also to be neutral in taxation terms by making a commensurate reduction in Employer’s Contributions to National Insurance and so reduce the tax on employment. The research finds that the Tax and Credit Scheme has good intentions in achieving a double dividend and recognises that it laid the foundations for a bottom up approach to improved waste management with public participation projects. However the research identifies and addresses a series of issues. In particular the Tax needed to be set at a substantial level to have an impact and did not itself reduce landfill. The Credit Scheme had the potential to encourage alternatives to landfill. However the Scheme’s range of approved projects and flaws in its operation meant it lacked a sufficiently strong sustainable waste management focus. The research notes that stakeholders support the Tax and Credit Scheme but recognise that it has scope for making a greater contribution to sustainable waste management particularly if additional Tax funds were allocated to strategic projects. In 2002 the Government diverted all the funds that would have been applied to ‘bottom up’ waste management projects under the Credit Scheme to centrally run ‘top down’ strategic projects, bringing to an end a key driver for sustainable waste management. The aim of the critical appraisal accompanying the papers is to outline the operation and highlight the criticisms and suggested reforms published in the papers between 1998 and 2004. In addition it suggests a way forward for the Landfill Tax credit Scheme, now called the Landfill Communities Fund to support once more support bottom up waste management projects. It also refers to key elements of the UK experience as an evidenced based guide to other countries that have already or are considering implementing similar taxes to the Landfill Tax
Date of Award2007
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorPaul S Phillips (Supervisor)

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