Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 137 - 139)

TUESDAY 7 DECEMBER 1999

DR DEREK LANGSLOW AND MR JONATHAN BURNEY

Chairman

  137. Good morning, Dr Langslow. Welcome to the Committee.
  (Dr Langslow) Thank you.

  138. You have had the advantage of having heard some of the questions and answers of the previous witnesses.
  (Dr Langslow) I do not know whether that is an advantage or not. I shall discover in the next half hour!

  139. Thank you very much indeed for coming along this morning. Is there anything you would like to add to your written submissions?
  (Dr Langslow) Yes, I would like to make a small number of brief comments. When we are looking at the impacts on the nature conservation interest we are looking at mineral extraction generally and most of our data and information is on minerals, not just aggregates, and therefore it includes minerals like china clay, ball clay, coal and peat, for example. That is the first point. The second point is that we share the Government's view that there are environmental externalities arising from mineral extraction that are not covered at the moment and that is where the issue arises about whether or not there should be a tax. The third point is that it is, in our view, essentially a political choice whether you go for regulation plus a tax or regulation plus a partnership agreement called a package. It is very much a political decision as to how one thinks the world will work better. If there is to be a tax, our view is that it is essential for environmental reasons that it is 100 per cent recycled minus the administrative costs. If it is not, then the tax, in our view, will have a limited benefit to the environmental issues. We believe that the behaviourial impacts of the tax will be quite modest. If the package goes forward, it needs to be better than the one which was on offer in July. This, we understand, has been the subject of further negotiation with Government but we do not know what the revisions. We considered it inadequate on SSSIs. Thank you, Chairman.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.


 
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