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R (Lafarge Aggregates Ltd) v. (1) Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2) Environment Agency [2015] EWHC 2388 (Admin)

DATE: 07 Aug 2015

This was a claim for judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision to uphold the Environment Agency’s refusal of Lafarge Aggregates’ application for an environmental permit for the restoration of Methley Quarry near Leeds using inert waste. The central issue was whether the proposed operations were “waste recovery” under Article 3(15) of the Waste Framework Directive as opposed to “waste disposal”. The Secretary of State’s Inspector dismissed the appeal on the basis that Lafarge had not shown that if waste could not be used for the proposed operations, they would otherwise have taken place using non-waste materials. Lafarge contended that this conclusion had not been open to the Inspector given that the restoration was a requirement of a condition on the planning permission for the quarry. Dismissing the claim, Patterson J. held that the correct question under Article 3(15) was what would in fact happen if waste could not be used, as to which the existing planning condition was relevant but not definitive in the light of the statutory powers available to remove or modify planning conditions, and that the onus of proof in showing that non-waste materials would have been used instead of a variation to the planning condition lay with Lafarge.

Charles Banner acted for the Environment Agency, whose submissions were accepted by the Court. Charles also acted for the EA in the public inquiry before the Inspector, who also upheld the EA’s submissions.