Case law: Court of Appeal backs waste recovery option

15th January 2016

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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Built environment ,
  • Construction ,
  • Planning


Jon May

Hayley Tam of Lexis PSL on the Court of Appeal's ruling on a case bought by Tarmac on whether it could use recovered materials to reinstate a public footpath at a quarry in Leeds.

The Court of Appeal has granted an appeal by Lafarge (now Tarmac) against a decision of the secretary of state.

In the November 2015 issue of the environmentalist, it was reported that the High Court had rejected the aggregates company’s application to appeal against a Defra inspector’s decision not to overturn a refusal by the Environment Agency of a standard rules environmental permit for the use of inert waste in restoration work. The company had wanted to use recovered materials as backfill to reinstate a public footpath at a quarry in Leeds, the restoration of which was a condition of planning consent.

The case hinged on whether the proposed operations were “waste recovery” under art 3(15) of the revised Waste Framework Directive and therefore eligible for a standard rules permit, or “waste disposal”, which required a bespoke permit.

In R (on the application of Tarmac Aggregates Ltd (formerly Lafarge Aggregates Ltd) v Secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, the Court of Appeal held that the backfill operation ought to have been classified as waste recovery. It said the operation was a legitimate function to comply with a planning condition, and if waste material was not used then primary materials would be required.

The main objective of the operation was to use the waste to secure ecological improvement of the site rather than to dispose of the waste, said the court. As a result, the claimant’s appeal was allowed and the inspector’s decision was quashed. It was replaced with a determination that the agency should issue a standard rules environmental permit in relation to the restoration work.


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