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Biffa Waste Services welcomes odour nuisance ruling

Biffa Waste Services has welcomed the dismissal of a claim by Hertfordshire residents seeking damages and an injunction for ‘odour nuisance’ at the company’s Westmill 2 landfill site.

152 local residents from the Vicarage Estate, Ware, sought damages from Biffa amid complaints of an odour from pre-treated waste at the company’s landfill site between 2004 and 2009.

 In his decision in the High Court, the Honourable Justice Coulson said: “I consider that, in all the circumstances, the permitted use of Westmill 2 as a landfill site meant that the carrying out of permitted activities of waste disposal, performed in accordance with the detailed terms of the permit and without negligence, amounted to a reasonable user of land.

“In those circumstances, while claims in nuisance that involved allegations of negligence against Biffa would have been open to the claimants, claims in nuisance alone were not. Since the claims which proceeded to trial were in nuisance alone, they were bound to fail.”

In a statement, Biffa said: “The company is very pleased that the court has dismissed the entirety of the claims before it and, in doing so, has set an important precedent for future claims of this nature. We had to deal with local residents and other stakeholders against the backdrop of having to defend a large-scale group action alleging negligence, private nuisance and the threat of an injunction to close the site. Biffa is delighted that all of these claims were either abandoned prior to trial or have failed by virtue of the court’s findings.”

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