Judicial review against Environment Agency dismissed

The judicial review sought in R. (on the application of Baci Bedfordshire Ltd) v Environment Agency has been dismissed. Baci Bedfordshire sought the review against the Environment Agency, which granted Covanta Energy Ltd an environmental permit.

The permit was for an energy recovery facility and allowed a proposed operation for an emissions management system in relation to fugitive emissions from incinerator bottom ash (IBA).

Baci Bedfordshire said that there was a risk of unmonitored discharge of heavy metals via surface water damage into the nearby lake. This would breach the Industrial Emissions Directive and the Environmental Permitting Regulations. Covanta stated that heavy metals within the IBA will be present as salts, which would be retained in solution when mixed with water and would not be expected to dissolve. This was proven wrong.

Information suggested the interceptors in the drainage system would prevent discharge of suspended solids. Covanta assumed the metals would be included in the suspended solids collected, and would not discharge into the surface water systems. This was also incorrect.

Covanta and the Agency accepted the error, but denied that the Agency relied upon the error when granting the permit. The risk of unmonitored discharge of toxic dissolved heavy metals into the surface water drainage system was also denied.

The judge was satisfied the Agency had not made the same mistake as Covanta and that necessary measures were in place to ensure only uncontaminated surface water would enter the attenuation pond and lake.

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