The EA has responded to the Consultation on Charging proposals from 2017. This consultation set out their proposals to make changes to the existing charging schemes, as it has been seven years since any cost increases have been implemented. The aim was to "sustain and improve customer services and regulatory activity; move to full cost recovery for work; implement a simpler, fairer and more transparent charging scheme, and deal with elevated environmental riskÂ.
It is disappointing that the EA has not adjusted its plans in response to concerns raised by the REA and other trade bodies on a number of fronts, particularly with respect to landspreading charges. The EA's response says: 'Despite concerns from the land spreading sector that charges are rising sharply and over how they are applied across the country, we will not make adjustments to these charges. We have reviewed our effort levels and believe that the rise in charges cannot be avoided, as investment is needed to deal with the environmental risks and compliance levels within this sector.'.
The REA and other trade bodies understand the need for the EA to charge more and broadly industry understands this. The main grievance, however, is that whilst the consultation made it clear charges would rise, it is only now that these increases are confirmed that industry can attempt to pass on the fee rises which will apply from 1st April 2018. It is unreasonable to allow industry only 6 working days to do this and the impact for the landspreading sector is particularly significant, adding up to £1.75 per tonne to costs. This might not sound significant but with tight margins it is likely to put smaller operators out of business.
The EA, with government support, has made it clear that the fee increases will go ahead and operators will have to pay up or get out of the waste management sector. In the future it is critical that any fee increases are announced at least a year in advance, at least this way businesses can set realistic budgets.
Click HERE to download the REA's response to the consultation.