Waste disposal: validity of licence conditions

A waste disposal licence condition made under Part I of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 requiring a hazardous waste incinerator to be operated so as to avoid a nuisance to local inhabitants has been held invalid by the Court of Appeal. The decision in Attorney General's Reference (No 2 of 1988) (The Independent Law Report, 7 April 1989) throws into doubt the enforceability of other licence conditions drafted in similar terms, and the result is significant in the light of the Department of the Environment's plans to develop an integrated system of pollution control.

The case arose out of a prosecution by Torfaen District Council, as waste disposal authority, against Re-Chem International over the operation of its Pontypool incinerator.

In 1982, Re-Chem was granted planning permission to build the plant in what the trial judge described as a "curiously unsuitable position in a valley bottom, close to housing#where the locality tends to produce unhelpful wind conditions and temperature inversions." Ope

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