The Minister for the Environment has made another announcement on municipal waste policy.
There are two components. One is not new: There is to be a cap on incineration. There is no rationale for creating an artificial scarcity, as explained by Gorecki and Lyons. Using both price and quantity instruments is double regulation. Tinbergen (1952) shows that this is unnecessarily costly.
The new element in the latest announcement is that the incineration levy is not constant, but increases with the size of the incinerator. Both the ESRI and the Eunomia report recommend an incinerator levy, albeit at different levels. However, they recommend the same levy, per tonne, regardless of the size of the incinerator — although one could argue that larger incinerators burn cleaner and therefore should have a lower levy.
There is no economic or environmental rational for putting a higher levy on larger incinerators.
UPDATE: Story in the Irish Times
UPDATE2: PJ Rudden says the proposed levies may be illegal. I’ve heard say that it would be anti-competitive to put one levy on a small incinerator in Cork and another levy of a big incinerator in Dublin, but as inter-county trade in waste will be verboten too, I’m not convinced that that argument holds.
UPDATE3: RTE looked at the letters between the City Manager of Dublin and the Minister for the Environment; they are not particularly friendly to one another.