News

Two waste management companies, Devon Waste Management Ltd and Biffa Waste Services Ltd, appealed against decisions of the First-tier Tribunal, upholding HMRC's assessments of certain waste material to landfill tax.

The appellants both operated landfill sites. Due to a decision in previous case law, legislative changes were made to the landfill tax regime with effect from September 2009. Those changes meant that certain activities that were not caught previously, were treated as taxable disposals under the Finance Act 1996.

The issue on the first appeal was whether certain "black bag" waste material from households, shops and offices were subject to landfill tax. Instead of being cast into landfill cells and crushed together with other waste, some "black bag" waste, known as "fluff", was selected for use as a buffer layer to protect against leakage of polluting liquids and gases. Placed in that way, the fluff performed a function in the cell in addition to being waste disposed of.

In the second appeal, the material in question was known as EVP and was a layer of non-compacted waste laid on top of landfill waste, essentially the same as fluff. The appellants argued that the previous case law was authority for the proposition that, making use of materials for the site operator's purposes connected with regulatory compliance, when they were deposited in the cell, was "use" inconsistent with an intention to discard, even though the materials had been disposed of at the site as waste, and such waste was not a taxable disposal under the 1996 Act. The tribunal held that the use of the fluff to protect the cell lining was not enough to negate an intention to discard it, and it therefore fell within the 1996 Act as being made by way of landfill.

At this appeal it was considered that HMRC had argued that previous case law was decided on the basis of the 1996 Act, which provided that material deposited on the land with a view to it being covered with earth at a later time was treated as being disposed of at the time of deposit, not the time when it was covered. That provision was therefore concerned with the time at which a disposal by way of landfill took place and had nothing to do with the separate question by which the previous case law was concerned, namely that of whether the material was disposed of "as waste". The only relevant question was whether, at the time of disposing of the material by landfill, the operator intended to discard it. Previous case law decided that if a site operator disposed of material at a landfill site, but in doing so intended to and did make use of its properties for his own purposes, including regulatory compliance, that use meant that the operator did not make the disposal with the intention of discarding the material.

"The clear conclusion is that the taxpayer companies, when disposing of fluff at their landfill sites, intended to and did make use of the properties of the fluff for their own purposes, namely providing a layer of protection for the geomembrane and drainage layer in the cell and the cap of the cell, thereby complying with the regulatory requirements for use of the landfill cell. The careful inspection of the fluff layer (to ensure that no sharp or large objects were contained in the bags) and the different compaction used on the fluff emphasise that the fluff is being used by the taxpayer companies in a particular way, in contradistinction to other black bags that are disposed of as waste".

The appeal was allowed.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is seeking views on a number of proposed changes to the Contracts for Difference scheme.

The aim is to make sure it continues to support low carbon electricity generation at the lowest possible cost to consumers.

Scope

The Contracts for Difference scheme is the Government's main mechanism for supporting new, low carbon electricity generation projects in the UK.

The Government is considering various changes to ensure the scheme is able to support the increase in ambition needed to deliver the Government’s 2050 net-zero target while minimising costs to bill payers.

The proposed changes support the following themes:

  • delivering net-zero by supporting the increased ambition required by the Government’s economy-wide legislative target to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050;
  • achieving value for money by ensuring that Government support drives cost reductions in renewable electricity generation and that this results in households and businesses being supplied with secure, affordable and clean energy;
  • supporting communities by ensuring developers listen to local communities and energy developments reflect their local environmental and economic context;
  • advancing the low carbon economy in the places which stand to benefit the most by boosting productivity and driving regional growth; and
  • maintaining energy security by supporting the deployment of new power sources needed to achieve a low cost and secure low carbon power system.

The Consultation also invites views on some minor potential changes to the Contracts for Difference (Allocation) Regulations SI 2014/2011 to further improve their operation and clarity.

Responding to this Consultation

This Consultation is open for responses from 2 March 2020 until 22 May 2020.

The preferred way to respond is by completing an online survey.

Alternatively, written responses can be sent by e-mail to: BEISContractsforDifference@beis.gov.uk.

For more information, see the:

The Department for Transport is seeking views on a proposal to introduce a new blend of petrol containing 10% ethanol to the UK market to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

This Consultation is a result of suggested actions from the E10 and consumer protection Government response and follows the 2018 call for evidence into whether and how E10 could be introduced in the UK.

Scope

Currently, unleaded petrol may contain up to 5% bioethanol, a grade known as E5 (not available in every petrol station), whereas E10 petrol contains up to 10% bioethanol and is not currently available in the UK.

In 2018 the transport in the UK was responsible for a 28% share of greenhouse gas emissions. To be in line with the Government's net-zero emissions by 2050, the transport sector must be significantly improved to reduce those emissions.

The proposed new blend of petrol and bioethanol will have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by about 750,000 tonnes per year, which is the equivalent of around 350,000 fewer cars on the road - as the consultation claims.

Under the new proposals, E10 introduction could provide a boost to UK industry and agriculture, particularly to the large bioethanol producers in the North East of England. The production also results in valuable by-products, such as high protein animal feed and stored CO2 for the nuclear and food and drink industries. By supporting UK ethanol producers, we can reduce imports of these products and support local economies.

However, the Consultation document acknowledges that the introduction of E10 will have minimal benefits in relation to air pollution from vehicle exhausts.

The Consultation also discusses the barriers to the introduction of E10, such as:

  • certain petrol vehicles are not approved for E10 use (estimated around 3% of vehicles, usually classic and older type);
  • it is not straightforward to determine which vehicles produced before 2011 will be approved for E10;
  • lack of proper consumer information on the E5 and E10 could lead to retailers being reluctant to the introduction of the new fuel mix;
  • vehicles powered by first-generation direct-injection petrol engines, usually made in the early 2000s - in this case, manufacturers are concerned the fuel system may develop faults with prolonged use of E10 fuel.

Responding to this Consultation

This Consultation is open for responses from 4 March 2020 until 19 April 2020.

The only way to respond is by completing a response form, available to download from the Consultation website.

Then, the responses can be sent by e-mail to LowCarbonFuel.Consultation@dft.gov.uk.

For more information, see the:

A recent investigation carried out by BBC Wales revealed that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) breached health and safety laws 40 times and 148 service personnel have died during training exercises, in the past 20 years.

The offences took place not during the active service in war zones, but during the training and selection process, where soldiers died while being exposed to extreme temperatures and weather conditions whilst performing intense physical exercises, as well as using unsafe equipment, machinery and vehicles.

Currently, the MoD, as a Governmental Department, enjoys Crown privilege. This means while health and safety legislation applies to the MoD, it is not subject to criminal enforcement in the courts. Instead of the criminal enforcement action, there are certain administrative arrangements that mirror them - ultimately leading to a Crown Censure instead of prosecution. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 does not apply to MoD's work activities and operations abroad.

The BBC reports that the families that decided to report on the deaths of their loved ones during army practice, expressed concerns that lives are put at risk.

In 2013 an incident occurred where three SAS soldiers lost their lives during a fitness test, where they were marching against the clock on the Brecon Beacons. The 16-mile march happened on one of the hottest days of the year, soldiers also had to carry a 25kg (3st 13lb) backpack all the way. On that day, of the 41 men taking part in the exercise, 18 dropped out, collapsed or were withdrawn. Two of the men that collapsed died at the scene, while one died later in the hospital. It was later found during the inquest that the paramedics from the helicopter attending the incident were told that "we occasionally get deaths on these exercises".

The BBC investigation also obtained an internal MoD review commissioned in 2002 after a series of diving deaths. The report recommended "substantial changes" to the equipment and training to meet "21st Century standards". In 2004 a soldier died during an exercise in Germany, using the same diving kit the Army was warned to replace just two years earlier, however, those concerns were overruled.

A few years later another soldier died at the National Diving and Activity Centre near Chepstow. An inquiry found that lessons had not been learned and the Army was lacking formal training for diving officers.

Ms Hilary Meredith, who represented the widow of one of the soldiers, said that the MoD "can be criticised but there are no sanctions or teeth to make them sit up and change the way we look after those people who serve us".

"I think, quite shockingly, the only way to make change is to really be extreme - remove immunity so the MoD takes responsibility and is sanctioned or fined if there is a reckless disregard to life."

In a statement, a spokesperson for MoD said that it regularly monitored and audited training and "all deaths in training are investigated" to "ensure that all accidents are minimised". The statement also mentioned that their heat illness policy had been updated six times since 2015, and a full safety review was undertaken into diving activities in 2018, which is currently ongoing.

A freedom of information request revealed that preventable injuries have cost the MoD more than £56m between 2012 and 2019.

The UK Government has published a guide which will assist employers and businesses in providing advice to employees on:

  • the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, including the signs and symptoms;
  • how to prevent the spread of all respiratory infections, including the novel virus;
  • what to do if someone with suspected or confirmed infection with COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting;
  • what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas;
  • cleaning offices and public spaces and handling waste where there are suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19;
  • advice for the certification of absence from work resulting from the novel infection.

The World Health Organisation also released some information on the rights, roles and responsibilities of health workers, including key considerations for occupational safety and health.

For more information on this subject, see:

Cedrec's travel statistics and carbon emissions calculations have been calculated for 2019 and it is good news for us!

Overall Cedrec's carbon usage is down 47% despite travel having increased by 58% over the same period.

In 2014 our Consultancy team travelled 11,532 miles and emitted 3,417kg CO2 emissions, whereas in 2019 they travelled 18,235 miles but emitted 2,881kg CO2 emissions.

There has been an increase in miles travelled by 53% in 2019, but the carbon emissions have gone down by 23%. These statistics have been made possible by using more sustainable travel options, such as trains.

As a result, our offset programme, which involves tree planting in the UK, is now offsetting more than 100% of all our calculated emissions regarding travel and energy purchases.

We are offsetting 25 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, and our total emissions in 2019 were 19.15 tonnes. We do this through Forest Carbon, a local North East firm, who lead the way in voluntary carbon woodland creation in the UK.


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