This was an appeal by the London Borough of Camden against a decision of the Magistrates Court dismissing summonses brought against the Mortgage Times Group Ltd.
Camden alleged three offences against Section 34 (1)(b) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Camden alleged that Mortgage had failed to take all such measures as were reasonable to prevent the escape of controlled waste from its control on three occasions. The controlled waste complained of were plastic bags containing shredded paper placed on the public highway before the advertised collection time. Camden argued that in depositing the controlled waste before the advertised collection time, Mortgage or their agents, had allowed the waste to escape from their control.
Did depositing controlled waste on the highway constitute an offence for the purposes of Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990?
Section 34 of the Act imposes a duty to take reasonable measures to prevent an escape of waste. It is the failure to take such reasonable steps which constitute the offence and the escape it not a prerequisite to liability. However, given that the magistrates had correctly answered the case that had been presented to them, it would be appropriate to dismiss the appeal.
*Fuil case details
London Borough of Camden vs Mortgage Times Group Ltd, High Court (Queen’s Bench),  EWHC (Admin) 1615
Contact Fenwick Elliott on 020 7421 1986 or NGould@fenwickelliott.co.uk
The Code of Practice issued by the Secretary of State for the Environment includes the following in paragraph 2.7:
“To minimise the risks, waste should not be left for collection longer than is necessary. Waste should only be put out for collection on or near the advertised collection times.”
Businesses or companies that produce controlled waste should ensure that it is left out for collection only during the advertised collection times. Failure to do so would risk a prosecution under the Environmental Protection Act. In this case, because of the way Camden had presented the case in the lower court, the appeal was dismissed. However, the judges indicated that they agreed with Camden’s reasoning. Therefore, prosecutions for failure to reasonable measures to prevent an escape of waste can be brought in the future. If people can be prosecuted for leaving out three bags of shredded paper, builders need to ensure they adhere to the correct procedure for waste removal from site.