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Environment Agency wins appeal over regulation of landfill site

The Court of Appeal has allowed the Environment Agency’s appeal in a claim brought by a five-year-old boy with a chronic and serious respiratory condition who lives near a landfill site.

In R(oao Richards) v Environment Agency [20201] EWHC 2501 the High Court (Fordham J) was told that the life expectancy of the claimant, Matthew Richards, would be reduced significantly if he suffered prolonged exposure to hydrogen sulphide produced by the Walleys Quarry Landfill Site in Staffordshire.

Landmark Chambers said the claim concerned the positive obligations arising under Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights in the regulation and control of these emissions from the site.

Mr Justice Fordham made a declaration whose effect was to specify both levels and target dates for reduced emissions which the Environment Agency must achieve, in order legally to fulfil its operational duties as regulator arising under Articles 2 and 8 ECHR, the set said.

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However, the Court of Appeal last week allowed the Environment Agency’s appeal against the High Court judge’s decision and set aside the declaration with immediate effect. The Court of Appeal also decided to dismiss the claimant’s cross appeal.

The Court of Appeal said it would give its reasons at a later date.

Timothy Mould QC and Jacqueline Lean of Landmark Chambers acted for the Environment Agency before Fordham J and in the Court of Appeal.

A spokesperson for Walleys Quarry Ltd, the site operator, said it welcomed the outcome of the appeal.

They said: “We have worked tirelessly from the outset with the Environment Agency in proposing to them and subsequently funding viable and innovative solutions to any genuine issues around the site.

“We remain committed to working with the Environment Agency, continuing to lead on proposing solutions and play our active role in resolving any issues to the satisfaction of all parties.”

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