Waste disposal and the meaning of "waste"

The waste disposal licensing provisions of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 cover "controlled waste" only. Difficulties in deciding what is or is not "waste" within the meaning of the Act have proved a fruitful source of litigation, and the divisional Court has recently had to face the question yet again. The judgement in Kent County Council v Queenborough Rolling Mill Co Ltd (Divisional Court, 24 January 1990) helps to clarify the legal approach, and underlines the trend of the higher courts to give the controls a generous application.

Queenborough Rolling Mill operates a steel mill on the Isle of Sheppey which is prone to subsidence and hence requires regular infilling. The company was approached by a contractor who offered to supply infilling material from a nearby site which the contractor was clearing. This site had been used as pottery, and the material consisted of 264 lorry-loads of china, china clay, broken pottery and ballast which itself had provided a hard-standin

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