Beckett gives insight into five year plan with promise of rise in landfill tax

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett gave an insight in to the contents of Defra's five year plan, due to be announced in a few weeks time, during her address to the Environment Agency's annual conference, this week.

Tackling climate change, halting the loss of biodiversity, protecting natural resources, minimising waste and improving chemicals management, are what she called the “edited highlights” of the environmental challenges we all face today, and response measures to these problems would form the main core of her five year plan.

An increase of at least £3 per tonne in the Landfill Tax every year from 2005 and a new code for sustainable buildings, designed to maximise energy efficiency and minimise water and material use, were two of the more concrete examples of action her department would be taking over the next few years.

She said she would be shortly announcing a programme of measures to recycle the Landfill Tax revenues – some £284 million over three years – by providing new support to business that specifically targets waste minimisation, diversion away from landfill and a marked improvement in resource efficiency.

Under the same programme, up to £20 million a year by 2007/08 will be used to fund a Technology Strategy aimed at waste minimisation and energy efficiency, and at least £40 million by 2007/08 will be used to expand the Carbon Trust’s energy efficiency programmes.

“We’ll also be looking at introducing a new enhanced capital allowance scheme to target waste and resource efficiency technologies,” Mrs Beckett said.

In addition, Defra are also planning for the creation of an Environment Direct service – giving clear, independent advice on the environmental impact of the choices they face.

Decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation was one of the greatest sustainability challenges, Mrs Beckett said, while stressing the ways in which individuals, businesses, governments and communities can all change their behaviour to minimise the impact they have on the environment.

“We all want greater prosperity and, if we do things differently we can have that without damaging our environment,” she said.

Looking to next year’s Presidencies of both the G8 and then of the EU, Mrs Beckett said the priorities would be climate change and Africa – particularly addressing the environmental impacts of our consumption patterns on other countries.

By David Hopkins

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