Environmental Law Update – a case of ‘Waste Not, Want Not’
In the recent case of R v Jagger  EWCA Crim 348, the Court of Appeal had cause to review the interpretation of ‘controlled waste’ for the purposes of offences committed under s.33(1)(a)of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (unauthorised depositing of waste).
The Defendant had deposited material into a void which had been created following demolition work. The Prosecution’s case was that this material was ‘controlled waste’ and, as it had been deposited without any exemption or permit, an offence had been committed.
The Defendant had argued that the material could not be categorised as ‘controlled waste’ given the intended re-use of the material for a number of purposes, to include shoring up other structures. The Court of Appeal overturned his conviction on the basis that the trial jury had not been given sufficiently detailed or adequate directions in relation to how any given material may, or may not be, properly categorised as ‘controlled waste’ for the purposes of the offence.
The Court of Appeal re-iterated a number of considerations relevant to a finding that material deposited is waste. The material is more likely to be waste if it:
- creates unacceptable risks to the environment or human health;
- is not suitable for its claimed re-use without further treatment;
- is not certain that the material will be re-used as claimed;
- is present in excessive quantities.
The categorisation of waste material is thus highly fact specific – and detailed consideration of any re-use of the material will continue to be required. ‘Waste not, want not’ as they say.