Semple Fraser, Taylor Wessing score ‘waste as fuel’ litigation

The Environment Agency’s legal services team, Taylor Wessing and Scottish firm Semple Fraser, were in court last week to resolve a dispute over the incineration of waste fuels.

The judicial review was brought by two companies, Solvent Resource Management (SRM) and OSS Group, to determine the circumstances in which waste material or material derived from waste ceases to be waste when it is burnt as fuel.

Taylor Wessing partner Brian Greenwood, instructing One Crown Office Row’s David Hart QC, acted for SRM, while Semple Fraser partner Vincent Brown, with Richard Drabble QC of Landmark Chambers as counsel, acted for OSS.

Both companies recycle used substances, SRM specialising in solvents and OSS in recycling oils. They want to burn some of the substances as fuel, arguing that those substances should be treated as fuel rather than waste.

However, the Environment Agency, instructing Blackstone Chambers’ John Howell QC and Dinah Rose QC, argued that the substances were still waste and should be treated as such under the terms of the EU’s Waste Incineration Directive. This imposes more stringent conditions on a company, making incineration more expensive.

Last week Mr Justice Burton found that OSS could not claim relief to allow it to burn waste oils recycled into clean fuel oil as a fuel, as it does not comply with the directive’s emission limits.

However, Burton J said SRM may be able to come to an agreement with the Environment Agency over its solvents.

OSS and SRM were granted permission to appeal.