This Update contains brief details of recent Government and EU publications, legislation, cases and other developments in England and Wales relevant to those interested in municipal waste management, which have been published in the past month. 

Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet. All links are correct at the date of publication.

If you have been forwarded this update by a colleague and would like to receive it direct please email Claire Booth.

The following topics are covered in this update:

   Funding    Recycling
   Judicial Review    Waste Management
   Permitting and Licensing   



European Commission: LIFE  and local authorities - Helping regions and municipalities tackle environmental challenges: the European Commission’s LIFE (Financial Instrument for the Environment) programme has played an important role in demonstrating innovative approaches to the environmental challenges facing Europe’s local and regional authorities. This publication highlights many of the most successful of the LIFE projects, with extensive case studies and examples of best practice across a number of sectors: from sustainable transport to waste and water management, the threat of climate change to spatial planning. (12 January 2011)

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Judicial Review

R (Edwards) v Environment Agency [2010] UKSC 57 (Sup Ct): P unsuccessfully challenged the EA’s decision to issue a permit for the operation of cement works. Her appeal failed, and she obtained permission to appeal to the House of Lords (later the Supreme Court). Her application for a protective costs order to cap her liability for costs was refused. The Supreme Court costs officers concluded that they should seek to implement the principle in Art.10a of the EIA Directive 85/337 and Art.15a of the PPC Directive 96/61 that review proceedings concerning certain environmental matters should not be prohibitively expensive, and they decided to disallow any costs which they considered to be prohibitively expensive. The issues before the court were whether it was open to the costs officers, where an application to cap the costs liability had been rejected, to achieve that result through the detailed assessment process; and if so, whether the "prohibitively expensive" test should be focused on the actual circumstances of the parties and not on what would be prohibitively expensive for an ordinary member of the public.
The Supreme Court held that the function of the costs officers under the Supreme Court Rules 2009 was to carry out a detailed costs assessment, and decisions as to whether the receiving party was to receive less than 100% of the assessed costs were reserved to the court. The costs officers had no jurisdiction to decide that a respondent would receive only a part of the assessed costs. The question as to whether a review procedure was prohibitively expensive was a matter that should be addressed by the court itself, preferably at the outset of the proceedings. The test which the court had to apply to ensure that proceedings were not prohibitively expensive remained in a state of uncertainty. The balance seemed to lie in favour of the objective approach, but that had yet to be finally determined. The issue of the correct test to be applied was referred to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling and the order for costs against P was stayed pending the reference. (15 December 2010)

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Permitting and Licensing

Environment Agency: Standard rules for the Environmental Permitting Regulations – Consultation No.6: seeks views on the standard permitting rules for anaerobic digesters (ADs) and the associated combustion of the biogas, and how far they should be from homes, businesses and sites of ecological importance, as set out in Standard Rules No.15 (Anaerobic digestion facility including use of the resultant biogas) and Standard Rules No.16 (On-farm anaerobic digestion facility including use of the resultant biogas). The proposals are to remove the 200m distance criteria to the nearest public building or residential dwelling and to reduce the distance criteria to a site of ecological importance from 500m to 300m. The consultation closed on 31 January 2011. (4 January 2011)

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European Commission: Review of the Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste: the EC has published a report on Member States' performance in the prevention and recycling of waste which shows that some Member States have made excellent progress, but that there is still some way to go to achieve the long-term goal of becoming a 'recycling society' – one that not only avoids producing waste but also uses it as a resource. The report includes a summary of the main actions taken by the Commission, the main available statistics on waste generation and management, a summary of the main forthcoming challenges and recommendations for future actions.

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Waste Management

Institution of Civil Engineers: State of the Nation - Waste and resource management: sets out a series of recommendations that ICE believes is needed to improve the state of the nation’s infrastructure and associated services, based on evidence from over 50 organisations, including local authorities, waste management companies, waste advisers, engineering consultancies, utility companies, NGOs and energy organisations. It calls for a waste sector ‘evolution’, costing at least £10-20bn by 2020, that would see policy makers and the waste industry make a rapid shift towards a culture where the focus is not only on increasing the quantity of recycled materials but on retaining the quality and value of reusable materials as they move through the waste cycle, so they can be returned to and benefit the economy as first rate, saleable goods. It includes key waste facts for Municipal Solid Waste and Commercial and Industrial Waste. (13 January 2011)

OFT: Organic waste market study: the OFT has announced that it is to undertake a study of the market for treatment of organic waste, in order to understand whether the markets for organic waste treatment services and in particular sewage sludge treatment services, are working well and, if not, what might be done to improve them. The OFT expects to conclude the study in July 2011 in time for any recommendations to feed into Ofwat's wider review of economic regulation in the water and sewerage sector. (21 January 2011)

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