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Guidance on Environment Prosecutions

Gregory Jones QC

Skipaway appealed by way of case stated (Skipaway v Environment Agency [2006] EWHC 983 (Admin)) against the decision of the magistrates' court to convict it of six offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 s.33 (6). S had allegedly breached conditions 3.3 and 3.4 of its waste management licence relating to its waste transfer plant in that, on four occasions, waste had been stored outside an approved storage bay and had protruded beyond the edge of the bay walls and on two other occasions, waste had been stored above the permitted height contrary to s.33(6) of the Act. The magistrates had held that the waste in question was controlled waste within the meaning of s.75 (4) and s.75(7) of the Act. In cross examination a witness for the environmental Agency accepted that it was possible that the waste had come from farms and quarries and if so the licence would have not been breached. No harm to the environment was alleged.

The Divisional Court gave important guidance on the approach to be adopted to the burden of proof and also upon the level of evidence that needed to be attested by the prosecution. It also restated the principle that the Divisional Court would not look at evidence not contained within the case stated.

Gregory Jones appeared for Skipaway (instructed by Simmons & Simmons). For further details contact gregory.jones@ftbchambers.co.uk or clerks@ftbchambers.co.uk