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Case C-252/05 R (Thames Water Utilities Ltd) v Bromley MC & Environment Agency (ECJ)

DATE: 10 May 2007

The European Court of Justice ("ECJ") gave judgment in Case C-252/05 R (Thames Water Utilities Ltd) v Bromley Magistrates Court and the Environment Agency.

This was a reference by the Queen's Bench Division in the course of criminal proceedings brought by the Environment Agency against Thames Water alleging that it had been responsible for the spilling of untreated sewage from the sewerage network on to land in Kent.

The case considered the meaning of waste and the exceptions to that concept under the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 75/442).

The ECJ held that:

1. sewage which escapes from a sewerage network maintained by a statutory sewerage undertaker pursuant to the Urban Waste Water Directive (Directive 91/271) was waste for the purposes of Directive 75/442 applying Case C-419/97 ARCO Chemie [2000] ECR I-4475.

2. that such escaped sewage is not excluded from the scope of Directive 75/442 by virtue of Directive 91/271 being "other legislation" for these purposes;

3. that Directive 91/271 is not legislation within the scope of Article 2(2) of Directive 75/442.

James Maurici was instructed by the United Kingdom Government.