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Successful appeal against EA's permit refusal helps to clarify landfill legislation

The whole waste management industry will be affected by a successful appeal against the Environment Agencys (EA) refusal to grant two landfill permits in Norfolk, according to law firm Walker Morris (WM). The firm represented Anti-Waste, a subsidiary of the Waste Recycling Group (WRG), which had been refused two Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permits for its Norfolk sites. But this decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal, which clarified interpretations of legislation which affects continued use of existing landfill sites. Under the PPC regulations 2000 and the Landfill regulations 2002, landfill operators must apply to the EA for PPC permits to continue operating on a site. However, the EA has refused some applications based on its interpretation of relevant legislation to continued use. It is this interpretation that has been successfully challenged, and will affect future EA decisions. WM partner and head of the environment group Claire Brook said: "This is a significant and long awaited decision, for the waste industry. It provides critical clarification of the relevant legislation and should mean that many decisions which have been held up can now be progressed. The case had gone to the High Court where Anti-Waste successfully established that a landfill boundary could be defined in a three dimensional manner (commonly referred to as 'piggybacking' and the 'installation issue'). On a separate but related issue, ('the groundwater issue') the High Court held that a PPC permit could not be granted if it included existing landfilled cells where discharges into groundwater were already occurring, unless these could be prevented. Both parties appealed to the Court of Appeal, which has now announced that it upholds the High Court's decision on the 'installation issue' and allows Anti-Waste's appeal on the 'groundwater issue' because it is not necessary to prevent existing discharges from former landfilled cells to include such cells within the PPC permit. Brook added: The courts have taken a sensible and purposive approach in their interpretation of the legislation to avoid the unnecessary sterilisation of significant landfill reserves while ensuring that the highest standards of landfill design and operation are adhered to."

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