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New tax could add 'significant' cost to ship Norfolk's rubbish to Netherlands incinerator

PUBLISHED: 15:54 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:54 07 January 2020

The waste incinerator at Great Blakenham. Photograph Simon Parker

The waste incinerator at Great Blakenham. Photograph Simon Parker

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A new tax on rubbish sent to the Netherlands to be burned could cause a "significant budget pressure" for Norfolk County Council.

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

After plans for a controversial incinerator near King's Lynn was scrapped in 2013, the county council has been sending 200,000 tonnes of the county's waste to be burned at incinerators in Suffolk, Germany and the Netherlands.

But, in its national budget, the Dutch government agreed from January 1, it would be taxing rubbish which was exported to the country for incineration.

It would add more than 30 euros to each tonne of waste exported to the Netherlands to be burned.

The county council, through its contractors, sent more than 100,000 tonnes there in 2018/19 at a cost of more than £11m.

Between April and September last year, 44,000 tonnes was sent, at a cost of £4.8m.

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Within the county council's budget, which will be discussed by the Conservative-controlled cabinet on Monday ahead of a final decision by full council next month, the risk is highlighted - but no provision for extra costs made.

The documents state: "A risk is emerging in relation to potential pressures within the council's waste budgets which relates to the potential implementation of import taxes on refuse derived fuel (RDF) in the Netherlands from January 2020.

"In the event that these are implemented, and subject to contractors' decisions about export RDF material, there is a risk of a significant budget pressure arising in 2020-21.

"The budget currently makes no provision for these potential additional costs due to the uncertainty around a number of variables which would have an impact on the overall level of the pressure."

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, said: "This is going to have an impact, but at this point we do not know the figure.

"All we can do is mitigate for it. We are talking to our contractors about the issue but we will need to make a future adjustment in the budget before it is baked in."

Meanwhile, the contract which sees Norfolk send waste to the incinerator in Great Blakenham was due to come to an end.

However, Suffolk County Council is prepared to allow 20,000 tonnes a year to continue to be burned there and the cabinet is due to agree to that next week.

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