Case law: Waste appeal against confiscation orders allowed in part

An appeal was allowed in part in the case of Environment Agency v Ryder. The appeal involved the owners of a waste management site appealing against confiscation orders imposed following their convictions for waste-related environmental offences.

The appellants controlled companies that operated on a waste management site, on which the site tenant had an environmental permit to share and treat waste as a regulated facility. The site had its permit removed when it did not comply with a notice issued by the Environment Agency.

In addition, the company did not leave the site in an acceptable state, or remove all waste from the site. Some waste activities were ongoing on the site, even though the company had gone into liquidation prior to removal of the permit and the lease had been lost.

The appellants pleaded guilty to one charge of breach of an enforcement notice and were convicted of three charges of depositing waste and operating a regulated facility without a permit. They were sentenced in the Crown Court.The recorder found that the appellants had continued to operate the facility in their personal capacity as owners of the land after the permit had been revoked.

The recorder decided that there had been a benefit from the criminal activity consisting of a pecuniary advantage, including an amount equal to the costs of the removal of the waste.

The appellants argued that the recorder should not have included removal costs in the benefit amount as it did not result from the conduct they had been charged with.

It was held that the appellants had no permit at the time and thus had no right to store the contaminated waste on the site. They had allowed a waste operation to be carried out as owners and controllers of 
the site after their company was liquidated.

It was decided that under the wide definitions of “recovery” and “disposal” in the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2010/675 and Directive 2008/98/EC on waste, the appellants were storing waste for recovery or disposal. The broad approach was also taken in relation to the words “as a result of or in connection with” from the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, a width which the court thought was “reinforced” throughout that Act.

The judge concluded that the appeal on the main issue had to be dismissed, and “the avoidance of the inevitable costs involved in disposing of the waste legally amounts, in my view, to the gaining of a pecuniary advantage and that benefit has accrued to the defendants through their criminal conduct.”

One of the appellants also argued that some jointly owned property should not have been included in determining the available amount. This was allowed.

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