THE SNP has come under fire after failing to collect a single penny from illegally dumped waste through a new tax power that was rolled out five years ago.

The Scottish Government has yet to collect a single penny through landfill tax for illegal flytipping, despite the revenue stream coming into effect in 2015 following additional devolution of powers from the UK Government.

Landfill tax is administered by Revenue Scotland, part of the Scottish Government – and is a tax on the disposal of waste to landfill and is charged by weight and depends on the type of material.

Operators of landfill sites in Scotland are liable for the tax and this cost is passed on to the local authorities and businesses who dispose of waste at landfill sites.

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In the 2019/20 financial year, Revenue Scotland collected £119 million from landfill tax as part of more than £700 million since 2015.

The Scottish Conservatives wrote to the Scottish Government to find out how much revenue has been collected for illegally dumped waste.

But a response by Elaine Lorimer, chief executive or Revenue Scotland confirmed that “to date, Scottish Landfill tax has not been recovered from illegally deposited waste”.

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Ms Lorimer added: “Whilst Scottish Landfill Tax has not been recovered on unauthorised disposals, Revenue Scotland has a published plan to tackle noncompliance within the landfill sector.

“That work has involved significant litigation including cases currently in the tribunal process. Although Revenue Scotland is not a prosecuting authority in its own right, it has cooperated with Police Scotland and other agencies to ensure that serious non-compliance is tackled to ensure a level playing field within the industry.”

The revelation comes as the number of calls received by an official hotline to report fly-tipping hit 30 a week and a reported surge in illegal dumping taking place during the lockdown, as recycling centres were closed temporarily and some traders looked to offload goods that were no longer required.

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In 2014, Zero Waste Scotland’s litter strategy said legislation was coming into force which would “discourage large-scale fly-tipping, with new powers for SEPA and action to recover landfill tax from illegally deposited waste by Revenue Scotland and SEPA”.

It is not known exactly how much tax could be collected if the measures were properly enforced, but Zero Waste Scotland estimates fly-tipping costs the public purse at least £11 million a year.

Revenue Scotland said that Identifying who is responsible for illegal disposals including fly tipping, and any resulting liability, is difficult to demonstrate.

Scottish Conservative economy spokesperson, Maurice Golden, said: “It was made very clear that when landfill tax was introduced, one of the things it would do is recover cash from illegally dumped waste.

“Yet more than five years into the power being in place, not a single penny has been collected.

“That has an obvious negative consequence for the public purse which could run to millions and will do nothing to deter those who think it’s acceptable to illegally dump rubbish across Scotland’s communities.”

He added: “This is something the SNP has to get on top of as a matter of urgency.

“Public funds have never been tighter, and money raised through this could go back into supporting Scotland’s environment.

“The SNP government needs to explain why nothing has been collected when that was one of the explicit aims of the policy.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The collection of Scottish Landfill tax and related compliance activity is an operational matter for Revenue Scotland in its role as Scotland’s devolved tax management authority.

“The Scottish Government has provided SEPA and local authorities with the powers to fine anyone caught flytipping, with a minimum fixed penalty of £200 and a maximum penalty of £40,000 if prosecuted.

“We continue to work with Cosla, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Zero Waste Scotland to address a number of waste issues, including littering and flytipping which is illegal, selfish, dangerous and completely unacceptable.

“Further measures to influence behaviour towards litter and flytipping are set out within our National Litter Strategy. We are currently considering our next steps in respect of reviewing and updating the strategy.”