Spanish region plans industrial pollution tax

Castilla-La Mancha ecotax to affect biggest SO2, NOx, emitters, nuclear industry

Spain's Castilla-La Mancha region is to introduce an industrial pollution tax targeting big emitters of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and the nuclear industry, its government announced last week. The new tax should be in place by the end of this year, economics minister Maria Luisa Araujo told ENDS Daily.

Though a tax on some industrial emissions already exists in Spain's Galicia region, the Castilla-La Mancha proposal is the most ambitious ecotax programme yet seen in Spain. Its inclusion of taxes on both nuclear electricity generation and waste disposal has sparked protests from the industry. Castilla-La Mancha has a Socialist administration - the party was pledged to phase out nuclear power in Spain had it won recent national elections (ENDS Daily 13 March).

Taxes on SO2 and NOx will affect only the largest installations emitting over 1,000 tonnes per year. This will bring two or three cement works, one refinery and five oil or coal-fired power stations into the scheme. The nuclear element of the tax will affect both power stations and the planned dry storage waste facility at Trillo (ENDS Daily 5 August 1999). For all types of installation to be taxed, the draft legislation prohibits passing on the extra costs to consumers.

The plan has been criticised both by the nuclear industry and environmental groups. Trade association Foro Nuclear said that targeting nuclear would not help make the polluter pay. Nuclear power should be exempted, it said, because "it reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 60m tonnes per year". Environmental group Ecologists in Action, called for the tax to be broadened to cover other industries such as open-cast mining and for all revenues to be ring-fenced for environmental protection.

Ms Araujo defended the ecotax plan. It was "carefully balanced to have a dissuasive effect on major polluters without driving investment away from the region," she told ENDS Daily. The minister estimated total revenue in the first year of operation of around euros 18m (SPta3bn).

Follow Up:
Castilla-La Mancha economics department, tel: +34 925 26 65 00; Foro Nuclear, tel: +34 91 443 6303; Ecologists in Action Castilla-La Mancha, tel: +34 967 21 44 63.

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