Judicial Review hearing set for February 2013

Defra’s Deputy Director for Climate, Waste and Atmosphere, Richard Pullen, has announced that the Judicial Review regarding the legality of co-mingling collections will be heard in High Court in “early 2013”.

Resource can now confirm that the dates have been set for February 26-28 2013.

Defra Richard PullenSpeaking at the annual conference held by the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) on Wednesday (17 October), Pullen said that Defra and the Welsh Government will “defend the revised transposition in early 2013” and will also “work with local authorities to produce guidance for the revised Waste Framework Directive”.

Pullen also said that Defra is currently working on MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) regulations to establish a system of testing and sampling in the hopes of improving recyclate quality in the UK.

The “revised transposition” – Defra and the Welsh Government’s second attempt of drafting the government’s Waste Regulations amendment – came into force on 1 October 2012.

The transposition aims to align the UK’s Waste Regulations with the European Commission’s (EC) revised Waste Framework Directive (rWFD) on the collection of dry recyclables.

It states that local authorities will need to run separate collections of dry recyclables by 2015 (as specified in the EC directive) but maintains that co-mingled collections are acceptable as long as separate collections are not technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP) and as long as the right quality of recyclates are achieved.

Transposition "not adequate"

According to the Campaign for Real Recycling (CRR) – claimants in the ongoing Judicial Review – England and Wales’s permission of co-mingled collection systems could “permanently undermine the environmental and financial benefits of recycling”. The CRR argues that the transposition is “still not an adequate transposition of the revised Waste Framework Directive”.

A source close to the Welsh Government told Resource that he expects the case will eventually go to the European Court of Justice, as the wording is unclear in the original European document. This would ensure that the rWFD is applied as the European Commission intended.

The announcement of a set date for the Judicial Review hearing will come as welcome news to many, as the European Commission’s target of having separate collections for dry recyclables by 2015 is drawing ever closer and local authorities are growing increasingly concerned about which collection methods they should be running.

If the claimants win the case, the amended regulations could see all councils having to run kerbside-sort services, unless they are impossible in the area.

Pullen also announced at the LARAC conference that Defra will be putting together a waste management plan for England by 2013, but did not “envisage it including many new policies”. Rather, it will be bring “all existing policies into one coherent document”.

An announcement regarding the allocation of funding for Eric Pickles’s Weekly Collection Support Scheme (run by the Department of Communities and Local Government), meanwhile, is expected “very soon”, with Pullen indicating that it could be in the next two to three weeks.