The Local Government Association (LGA) has slammed as “factually inaccurate” and “misleading” an article written by lawyers representing claimants in the waste collections judicial review (JR).
In a letter to council bosses, LGA chief executive Carolyn Downs accused lawyers for UK Recyclate of trying to “influence the behaviour of councils” ahead of the JR. In response, a statement sent to MRW by the article’s author, Hilary Harrison of Anthony Collins Solicitors, refutes Downs’ criticism.
Harrison argued that councils should move to separate collections, despite the JR not having been heard and with the amended Waste Regulations due to come into force on 1 October.
Harrison said councils continuing to run commingled collections “open themselves up to further challenge” by further JRs.
The regulations, which transpose the European Waste Framework Directive (WFD) into English and Welsh law, were amended in July after an agreed pause in legal action.
In her article for MJ, a local government magazine, Harrison claimed the JR had “concluded that the Waste Regulations failed to comply with European law” but the LGA said this was “factually incorrect”.
Downs told councils: “The judicial review has not been concluded. In fact, there has been no hearing so far and the court has made no findings in the case.”
The LGA also accuses Harrison of a misleading suggestion that the claimants were “forced to challenge the amended regulation” whereas they had merely responded to a consultation and “did not legally challenge” the draft regulations.
Downs’ letter also criticised Harrison’s claim that “Defra and Welsh ministers have been put on notice that further amended regulations are still not compliant”. It stated that ministers had simply received a letter from the claimants objecting to the regulations.
Anthony Collins Solicitors’ response said the LGA “appears to be disputing semantics rather than correcting factual errors”.
On the specific complaint that the JR was said to have concluded the regulations failed to comply with the WFD, Harrison replied: “We believe that Defra and the Welsh ministers’ decision to go to public consultation in December 2011 in order to amend the regulations amounted to a tacit admission that the regulations did not comply with European law.
“Furthermore, our ‘challenge’ to the amended regulations was done via the consultation process. Our response to the consultation made clear that the amended draft regulations were also defective. At no point in the article did we suggest a legal challenge had been lodged to the draft regulations.
“Similarly, our reference to Defra and Welsh ministers being ‘put on notice that the further-amended regulations are still not compliant’ refers to a letter submitted after the consultation process.
“We have made an application to court to progress the existing court proceedings on the basis that the amended regulations still do not comply with the European Directive.”