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Northern Ireland commingling ruling branded a ‘weak TEEP case’

A recycling company has warned councils they would be ‘ill-advised’ to rely on a recent High Court ruling that appeared to back commingled over separated collections.

Mr Justice Treacy backed Banbridge District Council’s decision to drop sorted kerbside collections run by Bryson Recycling in favour of a mainly commingled in-house service.

The judge said the authority was able to demonstrate this would increase recycling rates and therefore fully separated collections could not be considered ‘technically, environmentally and economically practicable’ (TEEP) under the Waste Framework Directive (WFD).

The company had launched a judicial review in 2011, claiming on 11 separate grounds that the decision to drop its services was flawed and “not in the best interest of rate payers”.

Bryson Recycling said the main thrust of the case was over the legality of Banbridge Council’s decision to bring their recycling service in-house rather than a dispute about the form of recycling undertaken.

A company spokeswoman added that several provisions under the WFD had not taken effect at the time of the council’s decision to drop their services and that in October last year parts of the WFD had been revoked from the Waste Regulations (NI) 2011.

She added: “It would therefore appear that a council undertaking a similar decision today would be required to consider the provisions of the Directive more closely, and would be ill-advised to rely on this case.

“The decision of Mr Justice Treacy provides limited clarification on the status of the revised Waste Framework Directive.”

The company pointed out that the judge said he had made the ruling on TEEP “rather more succinctly than might otherwise have been required” because the case had been dismissed on two significant technicalities, the timing of the judicial review and it being a commercial decision for the local authority.

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