Big increase in charges for Scottish "Part B" operators

Operators of "Part B" processes in Scotland are facing a massive increase in fees and charges for 1998/99 under proposals issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in February. In contrast, firms south of the border face increases no higher than inflation.

Businesses have already been taken aback by the unexpectedly sharp increases in fees and charges proposed for 1998/99 under the regulatory systems operated by SEPA and the Environment Agency. The increases are generally between 10-20% for the waste, water and integrated pollution control regimes (ENDS Report 276, pp 38-39 ).

The steepest increases yet were proposed by SEPA on 4 February in a consultation paper on Part B processes. Emissions to air from these sites are regulated by SEPA in Scotland but by local authorities in England and Wales.

SEPA's proposals would see application fees rise by 75% from April, while subsistence charges would increase by 28%. The paper attributes the increases to significant under-recovery of costs under the present charging rates, and SEPA - still in a financial crisis despite receiving more grant-in-aid for next year than intended by the previous Government (ENDS Report 275, pp 3-4 ) - wants to move to full cost recovery from April.

In contrast, Part B operators in England and Wales face increases of just 2.4% in application fees and 3.1% in subsistence charges. The new rates were confirmed on 26 February. Operators of petrol stations and waste oil burners of less than 0.4MWth have paid £100 in both application fees and subsistence charges this year throughout Britain. The charges are to be frozen in England and Wales for 1998/99. But in Scotland, SEPA wants to see application fees raised to £300 for petrol stations and £175 for waste oil burners, while their subsistence charges would rise to £250 and £175, respectively.

It remains to be seen whether SEPA's proposals are approved by Ministers. In England and Wales, the structure of the present charging scheme is to be reviewed in the spring.

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