In this latest Environmental Law News Update, Charles Morgan and Laura Phillips consider DEFRA’s recent consultation on the implementation of the Aarhus Convention, and two separate cases involving the sentencing of company directors for waste offences.
UK’s Aarhus implementation continues to arouse controversy
DEFRA has opened (and is imminently closing) a consultation on its draft Aarhus National Implementation Report 2017. The consultation period runs from 15 August until today (29 August) and is publicised only on DEFRA’s consultation website. The final report, already overdue, will be submitted to a meeting in Montenegro on 11 – 14 September. The RSPB, ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth are currently awaiting judgment in their judicial review of the lawfulness of the recent changes in CPR Rule 45.44 permitting variation or removal in certain circumstances of the protective costs limits imposed by Rule 45.43 in respect of “Aarhus Convention claims”. The DEFRA draft report does not refer to the recent rules revision or the resulting litigation, despite the expressed concerns of the Aarhus compliance committee over the compatibility of the CPR with the convention’s ‘third pillar’ of access to environmental justice.
DEFRA’s report states that “Adequate and effective remedies, including injunctive relief in appropriate cases, are available” and refers to the “automatic” costs capping in CPR Rule 45.43.
The draft DEFRA report may be found here
Subscribers to the ENDS Report may read more here
Company director given suspended sentence for waste offences
Mark Smyth, the sole director or Arrow Gypsum Recyling Limited, was sentenced on 16 August, to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months with 200 hours unpaid work for one offence of breaching a condition of the company’s environmental permit (guilty plea) and one offence of failing to comply with an enforcement notice (conviction after trial). He was also ordered to pay £10,000 in compensation to the owner of the land, and disqualified from acting as a company director for 7 years.
More than 5,000 tonnes of gypsum plasterboard had been abandoned in a building on the company’s site near Worcester, with a further 29 tonnes left outside, leading to the service of an enforcement notice, which was ignored. The court found that Mr Smyth deliberately continued to accept waste once the processing of the gypsum waste ceased and the building became full. The high total clear up costs (£450.000) were held to be a serious aggravating feature.
The EA’s press release can be found here
Company directors given three months to pay more than £1m of criminal proceeds from running a waste site in a manner likely to cause harm to human health.
Peter Ogg and Paul Baison were ordered to pay £694,481.77 and £433,500.00 respectively under a Confiscation Order made by Caernarfon Crown Court on 17 August 2017 following their convictions in September 2015 and September 2016.
Their company, Lancashire Fuels 4 U produced RDF pellets and briquettes from waste. Fires broke out on the site in May 2014 and May 2015. The men were warned by NRW to scale back their operations, but they did not. The men were given suspended sentences of 12 and 11 months respectively, banned from being company directors for seven years and ordered to pay costs of £58,189.
Coverage of the story can be found here
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