An Taisce proposes reform of goods vehicle taxation together with new levies on pesticides and aggregates

11th September 2014
Press Release

The measures put forward will help shift the tax burden off labour and on to pollution

At today’s Environment Ireland conference (Thur 11 Sept), An Taisce has outlined proposals to reform the taxation of goods vehicles and has also said that a compelling case exists to introduce new levies to reduce the use of pesticides and aggregates.

Much like the changes to car tax in 2008, a tax based on emissions was the best way to ensure newly-purchased goods vehicles use less fuel and emit fewer pollutants, An Taisce’s policy director James Nix told the conference.

Newly-purchased trucks should be taxed on three criteria - emissions, carrying capacity and a road user charge. The road use charge can be annualised for Irish-registered trucks but levied on a daily basis for HGVs from abroad.

“It’s vital to make a start on reforming the taxation of goods vehicles in Budget 2015” James Nix said “to avoid more and more trucks re-flagging to the UK”. In early 2014 the loss of 58 Dundalk-based trucks to England cost the State €230,000 in road tax alone - and that’s just one example”, he said. Reforming truck tax would restore jobs and improve the environment, he said, adding that the industry estimate for the money lost to the State each year by failing to charge foreign-registered vehicles for the use of Irish roads was €23 million and rising.

Pesticides

An Taisce proposed a pesticides levy similar to that in place in Denmark and Norway. The tax would be based on a harm matrix and would encourage reduced chemical use, greater crop rotation and alternative weed control strategies.

The detection of weedspray residues in humans was troubling he said and steps were needed to lower the amount being applied to crops. In a study last year by Friends of the Earth, 44% of people tested positive for glyphosate residue. Ireland was not one of the 18 European countries analysed but the detection rate in the UK, Germany and Poland was 70% while Switzerland and Austria were much lower at 17% and 20% respectively.

Earlier this year glyphosate residue was found in a high proportion of breastmilk samples given by mothers in the US, while in Europe, leading Danish bakeries have stopped taking wheat sprayed with products such as Roundup before it is harvested.

Aggregates

The case for an aggregates levy of €2.50 per tonne is compelling. With a levy of £2 (€2.52) applied in Northern Ireland since 2010, the lack of a corresponding measure in the Republic was putting untold pressure on counties such as Monaghan, where illegal quarrying had got worse over the last three to four years.

A great number of well-run companies have long been damaged by illegal quarry activity and there was an onus on the State to tackle this situation, he said. VAT evasion on illegally quarried aggregate was rife, but a charge of €2.50 per tonne levied before leaving the quarry would be far more difficult to evade, and would assist legitimate operators as well as boosting VAT receipts.

A levy on aggregates would also boost the recycling of construction and demolition waste. The experience in the UK has been very positive and the use of recycled aggregates has risen to 22%, far higher than the EU average of around 5 per cent.

Over the long term a levy would also instill more value in existing buildings, making re-use, restoration and conversions far more economic.

Overall, the measures proposed would spur innovation and job creation, while reducing over-use, pollution and waste. The measures had a part to play in transferring the tax burden off labour and on to products and practices that harm human health or the environment.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce +353 87 2411995
Email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org (link sends e-mail)
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org