Landmark Chambers

Home > Resources > Environmental Law Blog

Environmental Law Blog

Case law update on waste

There have been three recent cases on waste, in the environmental law context.  

In Patersons of Greenoakhill Ltd v HMRC [2017] 1 WLR 1210, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by a landfill site operator for the repayment of landfill site tax on the disposal of biodegradable material (biomass) from which methane gas was naturally produced. The operator subsequently used the methane gas to generate electricity. The Court held that the relevant “material” which was disposed of was the biomass, which was discarded, not the methane, which was a natural by-product of it. The decision shows that landfill site operators will have to demonstrate that they did not have an intention to discard material which is the subject of repayment claims.

R (on the application of Recycling with Skips Ltd) v Secretary of State for Rural Affairs [2017] EWHC 458 involved a challenge to the finding of an Inspector that, in light of the claimant company’s environmental record, it was very unlikely that the claimant company would adhere to any conditions in an environmental permit even if one were issued. The court upheld that Inspector’s finding.

This decision exemplifies the usual unwillingness of the courts to interfere with findings of fact by Inspectors, but also serves as a reminder of the relevance of an applicant’s environmental history and suitability when applying for environmental permits under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

The final case is in the criminal context: R v Recycled Materials Supplies Ltd [2017] EWCA Crim 58. This concerned an appeal by a waste management company against its conviction on two counts of failing to comply with the terms of a condition in an environmental permit. The central question was whether both the local authority and the Environment Agency could regulate the same authority. The Court held that although duality of regulation was not to be encouraged, and that in this case, the Agency, and not the local authority, had jurisdiction over a company carrying on a massive operation recovering and processing multiple types of construction waste.

However, the judgement does contain useful guidance on the limited circumstances in which two permits, one issued by the local authority and the other by the Agency, can co-exist.