The Environment Agency has recently prosecuted, at Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court, a defendant caught depositing mixed waste at three sites in London, contrary to Section 33 (1) and (6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Amandeep Murria of Kangs Solicitors outlines the circumstances.
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The Relevant Law | Kangs Environment Agency Defence Solicitors
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides:
Section 33 Prohibition on unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal etc. of waste.
‘(1) Subject to subsections (1A), (1B), (2) and (3) below and, in relation to Scotland, to section 54 below, a person shall not—
(a) deposit controlled waste or extractive waste, or knowingly cause or knowingly permit controlled waste or extractive waste to be deposited in or on any land unless an environmental permit authorising the deposit is in force and the deposit is in accordance with the licence;
(b) submit controlled waste, or knowingly cause or knowingly permit controlled waste to be submitted, to any listed operation (other than an operation within subsection (1)(a)) that—
(i) is carried out in or on any land, or by means of any mobile plant, and
(ii) is not carried out under and in accordance with an environmental permit.
(c) treat, keep or dispose of controlled waste or extractive waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.
(1A) Paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) above do not apply in relation to a waste operation that is an exempt waste operation.
(1B) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to any part of a waste operation that—
(a) is the subject of a marine licence under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009; or
(b) does not require such a licence by virtue of any provision made by or under section 74, 75 or 77 of that Act and does not involve the dismantling of a ship that is waste.
(2) Subject to subsection (2A) below, paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) above do not apply in relation to household waste from a domestic property which is treated, kept or disposed of within the curtilage of the property.
(2A) Subsection (2) above does not apply to the treatment, keeping or disposal of household waste by an establishment or undertaking.
(3) Subsection (1)(a), (b) or (c) above do not apply in cases prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State and the regulations may make different exceptions for different areas.
(4) The Secretary of State, in exercising his power under subsection (3) above, shall have regard in particular to the expediency of excluding from the prohibitions in subsection (1)
(a) any deposits which are small enough or of such a temporary nature that they may be so excluded;
(b) any means of treatment or disposal which are innocuous enough to be so excluded;
(c) cases for which adequate controls are provided by another enactment than this section.
(5) Where controlled waste is carried in and deposited from a motor vehicle, the person who controls or is in a position to control the use of the vehicle shall, for the purposes of subsection (1)(a) above, be treated as knowingly causing the waste to be deposited whether or not he gave any instructions for this to be done.
(6) A person who contravenes subsection (1) above commits an offence.
(7) It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove—
(a) that he took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence; or
(b) that the acts alleged to constitute the contravention were done in an emergency in order to avoid danger to human health in a case where–
(i) he took all such steps as were reasonably practicable in the circumstances for minimising pollution of the environment and harm to human health; and
(ii) particulars of the acts were furnished to the waste regulation authority as soon as reasonably practicable after they were done.
(8) A person who commits an offence under this section is liable—
(a) Subject to subsection (9) below, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both;
(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine or both.
(9) A person (other than an establishment or undertaking) who commits a relevant offence shall be liable on summary conviction, or on conviction on indictment, to a fine.
(10) In this section, “relevant offence” means an offence under this section in respect of a contravention of subsection (1)(c) above consisting of the treatment, keeping or disposal within the curtilage of a domestic property of household waste from that property.
(11) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a) above, the deposit of waste in or on land includes any listed operation involving such a deposit.
(12) For the purposes of subsection (1)(c) above, treating, keeping or disposing of controlled waste includes submitting it to any listed operation.
The Case in Focus | Kangs Illegal Waste Disposal Solicitors
Upon investigation, which was part of a number of prosecutions (Operation Angola), it was discovered that:
- a Ford Transit tipper was used to illegally deposit mixed waste,
- mixed waste was deposited at several sites in London.
At the Hearing, the Magistrates imposed:
- a fine of £2,400,
- costs of £1500 and
- a victim surcharge of £48.
Following the case, Matt Higginson, Environment Manager for the Environment Agency, said:
‘This prosecution along with others from Op Angola, sends out a strong message that we will search out and prosecute anyone found to be dumping waste illegally.
Illegally depositing waste at sites without regard for the environment and the law has the potential to harm our natural resources, blight communities and undermine the legitimate businesses that follow the rules.
Our role is to protect the environment for people and wildlife, so we won’t hesitate to take action against those who put it risk. And to anyone flouting the rules, our message is clear: you won’t get away with it.
We encourage everyone to check that their waste collector is registered as a waste carrier – if your waste ends up illegally dumped you may be liable.’
How Can We Help? | Kangs Environment Agency Solicitors
The team at Kangs Solicitors has substantial experience defending clients charged with offences involving waste disposal and alleged breaches of all aspects of the Environmental Protection Legislation.
As the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 represents a complex area of law it is important to seek early expert advice and the team at Kangs Solicitors can provide detailed and experienced support throughout any investigation or prosecution.
Who Can I Contact For Advice? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors
If you are an individual or a company faced with the possibility of an investigation or prosecution in respect of any environmental issues of any nature, please do not hesitate to contact our team through any of the following who will be pleased to hear from you.