So said the House of Lords passing judgement in the case of United Utilities Water plc v. Environment Agency.

The court held that the requirement for a permit to operate waste treatment plants which disposed of non-hazardous waste applied to plants where intermediate biological and physico-chemical treatment processes took place prior to transportation to another installation for further treatment and disposal.

The appeal turned on the interpretation of the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1973) under which United Utilities Water plc sought for declaratory relief to the effect that three of its sewage treatment plants did not require a permit under the Regulations.

The Court adopted a purposive approach and in its judgement drew specific attention to the distinction between disposal and recovery. The Judgement concentrated on Chapter 5.3 of the Regulations: ‘Disposal of Waste other than by Incineration or Landfill’ for disposal of non-hazardous waste.

The Court stated that the regulations do not require the coming into existing of the product and its disposal to be simultaneous and pointed to the absurd consequences of United Utilities interpretation which would mean that no sludge treatment plant would need a permit if its product was moved to another site for further treatment before disposal.

Details can be seen here.

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