Glass firm's hopes shattered

A rival firm has persuaded the courts to revoke a pollution permit incorrectly issued to a glass manufacturer in Chester - meaning production cannot begin until the matter is cleared up.

R (on the application of Rockware Glass Ltd) v Chester City Council & Quinn Glass Ltd

Following a hearing on 15 June 2006 before the Court of Appeal, a decision quashing an integrated pollution prevention and control permit granted to operate an industrial installation for the manufacture of glassware was upheld.

The case arose following the development by Quinn of an installation for the manufacture of glassware, which required a number of authorisations including a permit under the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) regime for pollution control, due to its emissions, in particular emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

Within the permit, granted by Chester City Council, emissions were to be limited in a reduced scale from 1,000mg/Nm3 in 2005 to 500mg/Nm3 by 2009. However, Rockware Glass Ltd, as one of Quinn's competitors, challenged the grant of the permit on the basis that Chester City Council had incorrectly interpreted the IPPC Directive (Directive 96/61/EC) and the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000, which emphasised a high level of protection of the environment, using the best available techniques (BAT).

In quashing the permit, it was held that Chester City Council had wrongly failed to consider whether alternative configurations, size or design to that proposed would have produced lower emissions of specified pollutants, and further, had failed to consider whether the use of an oxyfuel process with a different number and size of furnaces, rather than the cross fired regenerative furnace adopted by Quinn, would produce lower emission levels of NOx, and/or would constitute BAT.

Finally, the court also held that Chester City Council had acted in breach of statutory EU and UK codes for pollution control by imposing emission limits for NOx which were higher that those which were achievable.

While Quinn argued that under the permit local Emission Quality Standards (EQS) would not have been exceeded, and that there was no requirement under the regulations or the directive to reduced emissions as far as possible, even if that were technically possible, the appeal was also dismissed.

The Court of Appeal held that the judge had been entitled to conclude that the permit should be quashed. It was explicit in the directive and the regulations that their objective was the prevention of an emission of NOx, or reduction as far as possible, requiring the application of BAT, with the IPPC requirements being more stringent than merely meeting EQS, which provide minimum quality standards.

Details can be found here.

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