The present position is that Councils have a “large safety net” against not achieving EU landfill targets.
The extent of the “collapse” of the LATS market has been emerging more clearly over the last week. Two of the UK’s largest waste disposal authorities have revealed that they hold a “substantial surplus” of landfill allowances available.
Such details have emerged since councils revealed their “disappointment” over low Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) prices last week.
Authorities are now seeking to off-load the allowances, which permit the landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste, at prices as low as £4.80 per tonne in the hope of attracting some kind of value.
This represents a drop from the £17-20 per tonne prices seen in the first two years of the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme since it started in 2005/06 – and even those prices were described as “low” at the time compared to the potential £150 per tonne fines for authorities failing to keep within their allowance limits.
One offer for allowances has been posted on Defra’s LATS register for the first Landfill Directive target year of 2009/10, and that is at just £50 per tonne.
One reason suggested for the collapse of the market has been the downturn in the growth in waste arisings along with significantly improved levels of recycling and composting.
Local authority officers are not facing pressure from the situation at present, because it is widely expected that the crunch time will not come until after 2010, since the 2013 Landfill Directive to slash landfill rates in half compared to 1995 levels is seen as the key challenge for councils.
Waster: Common belief is that a shortage of landfill allowances will hit eventually, when it does the tables will turn with a big rush for surplus allowances.