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Definition of Waste

Environment Agency v Inglenorth Limited ( 2009 )

A ground breaking piece of case law has been made recently following the dismissal of the EA's appeal against the findings of the initial magistrates court regarding a case taken against Inglenorth Limited a demolition and recycling company in the north west of england. Inglenorth demolished a greenhouse at site A for their client and transferred the materials to site B for reuse as hardcore in a car park area. The EA prosecuted Inglenorth under ss. 33(1)(a) ( failure to hold a waste management licence for the deposit of the waste ) and 34(1)(a) Environmental Protection Act 1990 ( EPA ) ( failure to take reasonable measures to prevent a third party from breaching the EPA ). The magistrates found the defendants not guilty on the basis that the material was not 'waste' as defined by the 'Waste Framework Directive' and s.75 (2) EPA. Under this legislation, 'waste' is defined as any substance or object in the ( non-exhaustive ) categories set out in the ( schedules to the EPA ) which the holder discards or intends to discard or is required to discardI ( emphasis added ).

The details of the case are suprisingly straightforward and although the EA endeavoured to muddy the waters by bringing into question storage times and immediate use the high courts dismissed the case and directed that no further appeal could be taken through the House of Lords. The clear message that this case sends is that where there is no intention at any time to discard demolition materials because those materials are to be recycled, reused and or reclaimed, then they cannot and are not to be classed as 'waste'. Demolition contractors have obviously a great deal to benefit from this decision and where there is evidence in place to show an intent to reclaim and reuse the onerous conditions set by the Waste Management Licensing Regulations will not come into play. However, there are or could be some instances where, through circumstances or site conditions, this may be difficult to prove and demolition contractors would be well advised to take each site or case on its merit.


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