Case law: Appeal court interprets "knowingly permit"

7th March 2014

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  • Waste ,
  • Environment agencies ,
  • Prosecution ,
  • Management


Jacqueline Brown

George Hobson from LexisPSL outlines a recent Court of Appeal case that focuses on the meaning of "knowingly permit"

The Court of Appeal (CA) has provided a useful analysis of the meaning of “knowingly permit”, which is used in the contaminated land regime, as well as in relation to waste and water pollution offences.

The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (as amended) make it an offence to knowingly permit the operation of a regulated facility without an environmental permit.

In Walker and Son (Hauliers) Ltd v Environment Agency [2014] EWCA Crim 100, land purchased by the company for redevelopment was used by another firm – Bloom (Plant) Limited, which had been contracted to demolish empty buildings on the site – as a waste transfer station.

An investigation by the local council concluded that Bloom was conducting an illegal waste operation without an environmental permit. Bloom pleaded guilty to various waste offences and Walker and Son was charged with knowingly permitting the operation of a waste facility without a permit. It pleaded guilty, but appealed, arguing that it had not been aware of the need for or omission of the permit.

The CA had to decide whether it was necessary for the defendant to have knowledge that the waste operation was not authorised or whether knowledge of waste activities at the site was sufficient for liability.

On dismissing the appeal, the court held that the words “knowingly permit” related to knowledge of the facts and not as to the existence of the environmental permit. It also held that the prosecution did not have to show that a defendant knew that the matters of which it was aware were not permitted.


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