Italy introduces tax on industrial air emissions

As environmental taxation gains ground, critics question value of new levy

A new tax on air emissions by Italian industry is to take effect later this month, when affected companies are required to make the first of four quarterly instalments. The tax was introduced with Italy's budget last December and is expected to raise over IL150bn (Ecu77m). Sites where at least one combustion plant has a nominal power of over 50MW must pay IL103,000 per tonne of sulphur dioxide, and IL203,000 per tonne of nitrogen oxides (NOx) released during the previous year. Late payment will automatically carry a penalty, while non-payment will lead not only to a penalty plus interest, but also to a four-fold increase of the original amount due. However, industrial critics argue that industrial air pollution has already fallen by nearly 70% in the last five years and that no further regulations on emissions are necessary. Opponents say that the tax will put an unfair burden on Italy's industry, with consequences for both competitiveness and inflation. Italy's electricity supplier, Enel, is expected to be hit hardest by the new tax. An Enel spokeswoman told ENDS Daily that payments in respect of 1997 emissions would cost the firm an estimated IL100bn.

Follow Up:
Italian environment ministry, tel: +39 6 70361. Enel, tel: +39 6 85091.

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