We are being jammed, crammed into even smaller spacers and boxed into corners when we try to fight back

My only disappoitment with this comment piece, is that Tom Welsh talks more about cars, that most of us use no more than 5% of the time we own them.  Even when he refers to roads, it’s about problems fitting the moving cars on to them.

He does however get on to the auwful boxes we are forcing our young people to put their hearts and souls into and maybe even raise a family in, if then priced out of the market for larger properties.  Here’s where the roads come into play, with the narrowness of those now built in residential developments, turning pavement parking into the standard practice.

Comment piece from Sunday Telegraph 9th September 2018

Stop ramping up our daily stress by cramming us into smaller, tighter spaces

Much about modern life seems designed to provoke fury. Sinks in hotel bathrooms are too tiny to fill up even the miniature kettles they provide. Household goods are too complicated to fix without the services of an expensive expert. Now we have statistical confirmation of another failure by design that drives people mad: parking spaces are too small for today’s cars.

This is largely because cars have expanded in size. The most popular models have widened on average by 17 per cent since the late Nineties, to provide more room for passengers and to cram in all the technology that regulation and drivers demand. Roads and parking spaces haven’t widened to accommodate them, however.

Many streets have in fact become narrower to fit in bus and cycle lanes. Dents, scuffs and even bad backs from drivers angling themselves awkwardly from their vehicles are the sad consequences of too-small parking bays. Terrible drivers who feel the need to park across two do little for societal calm, either.

The broader problem is an obsession with rationing space. Britain feels overcrowded partly because the population has grown strongly, but also because the authorities are determined to squeeze as much as possible into as little room as they can, a perverse fixation on ever greater density. This leaves passengers on trains uncomfortable, new-build flats and houses barely inhabitable and much smaller than older properties, and a trip to the shops by car far more stressful than it need be. Ironically, cars are one of the few things that have changed to meet a natural demand for more comfort. Meanwhile, council car parking spaces rigorously stick to the minimum size permitted by law in order to cram more vehicles in.

Policy changes could fix all of this, of course, and release some of the fury that is built into our daily lives. Land is expensive, and should ideally become cheaper. Travel costs on rail are already high, so operators attempt to pack more into commuter trains. But they could avoid proposed measures like the outrageous scrapping of first class carriages, which enable people to escape the packed-in discomfort we are expected to put up with.

But would any of this get a fair hearing today? Politicians and regulators are wedded to three principles that conspire together against public comfort. First is an unhealthy belief in targets, which sees 200,000 homes built a year as a triumph, even if they’re just inner-city box flats and not the family houses people actually want; and which trumpets unusable bays as meeting demand for parking.

Second is a blind faith in regulations, wherein things are designed to meet regulatory criteria, rather than to satisfy consumer demand. Third is a skewed mania for equality – exacerbated by snobbery – in which those who choose to take up more room, whether by buying a family car or wanting a family home, are deemed to be offending against efficient use of space. It isn’t the owners of large cars we should be fuming against

HS2 rail line backed by only quarter of people, survey says

I’d love to say you heard it first here and now the public have final caught on, but that of course is not the case.  Once it had gone past the concept and business case stage, selling it to the minister of the day could only ever have been a vanity project and something to put a big tick in that BS project the Northern Powerhouse.

Sunday Telegraph 9th Sept 2018 POLITICS

HS2 rail line backed by only quarter of people, survey says

£56bn budget would be better spent on NHS, it is suggested

PUBLIC opposition to the Government’s £56 billion high speed rail scheme significantly outweighs support in most of the country.

An ORB survey for The Sunday Telegraph found that 38 per cent of people oppose the scheme, with only 26 per cent in favour.

If HS2 were to be scrapped, 86 per cent said the money should go to the NHS. Only in the North West, which stands to benefit from the line, did support outweigh opposition, and even then only by 2 per cent.

The findings come as the project faces various setbacks amid growing concerns about its overall cost. Last week it was reported that the legislation needed to trigger the second section of the line, to Manchester and Leeds, had been pushed back to 2020. Several ministers have privately expressed their concerns and backbenchers are to call for a full review in a Commons debate on Wednesday, led by Bill Cash, the veteran Tory MP.

Last night Cheryl Gillan MP, who campaigned against HS2, said: “Is it right that such large capital expenditure should have only a quarter of people supporting it?

“It is a deeply unpopular project that has not caught the imagination of the country in any way. I fundamentally question whether HS2 is good value for money and this suggests taxpayers may be of the same view. People want to spend money on the health service, which benefits everyone, rather than something like HS2, which will benefit only a few.”

Last week ORB polled 2,100 people on their support for HS2. Of those, 17 per cent said they were somewhat opposed to the scheme while 21 per cent said they were strongly opposed.

Only 8 per cent strongly supported HS2, with 18 per cent saying they somewhat supported it. In Wales, 12 per cent were in favour while 52 per cent were against.

Last month David Lidington, Theresa May’s de facto deputy, criticised the “early, abysmal communications” at HS2 Ltd, the government-sponsored body behind the scheme, warning “there is still some way to go before there is a real culture of being open with residents about the development of detailed plans”.

Sir John Armitt, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, writing in The Sunday Telegraph last month, said an extra £43 billion was needed to “make the most” of HS2 by addressing the “inadequate” transport links passengers would face at both ends of their journey.

A spokesman for HS2 said: “As Birmingham is already demonstrating, HS2 will transform and rebalance the British economy. By making it easier to travel between and within the Midlands and the North, as well as to Scotland and London, HS2 will drive re-generation. In the process HS2 will also drive the economy, providing jobs and developing new skills. Already 6,000 people are employed either directly or indirectly by HS2.”

 

Why we need to get back control of the land in this country

Copied below are two items from a recent Sunday Telegraph.  Whether, or not the proposals Edward Malnick will ever see the light of day is debateable.  However, what is of note is the angel, understandable most would say, taken by the letter writer, Stewart Baseley.

Leaping to the defence of the principle of private land ownership and the benefits that brings, especially to many of his members who of course pay his wages, he also claims that his members have done a sound job when it comes to meeting the housing needs of the nation.

Taken as the base argument, given that councils have been actively prevented from delivering any meaningful numbers of social rented housing for the last 40 years, his comments are accurate.

However, what he conveniently ignores, is that this private sector delivery drive has been all about quantity and profit at the sacrifice of quality at every opportunity.

The development industry has carried out an extremely success guerrilla campaign to reduce build standards.  No doubt via the duel processes of lobbying and event sponsoring over many years.  I don’t have any evidence to substantiate my suspicions, but why else would successive governments have continued to reduce the overall standard of housing developments in this country, to some of the poorest in Western Europe?

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/08/uk-living-rooms-have-shrunk-by-a-third-survey-finds

An online image from the Daily Mail shows how quickly standards are dropping.

UK room size 2003-2013

Taking control of the land BEFORE the value is inflated by the green-eyed monster of the huge financial gains to be had from obtaining planning permission, might just help to begin to reverse the creation of the ‘rabbit hutch’ developments that has become our standard in this country.

It’s also worth pointing out that poor build quality isn’t just limited to the dwellings themselves.  The recent debate about pavement parking is even more valid these days due to the inept and mis-guided government policy on parking standards of John Prescott  when the minister for Labour in Government.

Should the UK ban parking on pavements?: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44466813

https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/what-we-do/key-issues/pavement-parking?gclid=CjwKCAjwt7PcBRBbEiwAfwfVGEQO_M5W923O0GDTPL7BVycf4TWBcqlk4GWljZdL78CYlhMVYu7cDRoCt_UQAvD_BwE

These were designed to force people out of their cars and on to non-existent public transport.  WE also suffer from almost non-existent standards for road widths within housing developments.  A lack of sufficient off street parking for each dwelling, added to streets and roads that are too narrow to allow parking of vehicles on both sides and two-way safe flow between, has forced residents to use the pavement to park on instead.

Pavement parking

POLITICS

Housing adviser to May backed forced land discounting

By Edward Malnick, Whitehall Editor Sunday Telegraph – 26 August 2018

THERESA MAY’S housing adviser has backed a controversial campaign to force landowners to offer huge discounts on the price of their land, it can be revealed.

Toby Lloyd called for an overhaul of compulsory purchase laws months before his appointment to Downing Street in April. Writing on the website of Shelter, Mr Lloyd, then head of policy at the housing and homelessness charity, said the Government should be able to buy up land at “true market value”, rather than current rates, which generally include a speculative uplift based on planning permission that a site could gain for future development.

100

Onward, the think tank, says agricultural land multiplies in value by 100 once planning permission for housing is granted

“The current value of land is inflated – because its value is dictated by the wildest dreams of the landowner and enforced through legal processes … We need to reset the price of land to its true market value,” he wrote in November.

“That means reforming the compulsory purchase laws … which ultimately determine the market price of land.”

Last week a coalition of organisations, led by new think tank Onward, and including Shelter, started a formal campaign for such a move, with an open letter to James Brokenshire, the Housing Secretary. Mr Lloyd “liked” a tweet by Will Tanner, Mrs May’s former deputy head of policy and now director of Onward, canvassing support.

The open letter to Mr Brokenshire had claimed that agricultural land typically becomes at least 100 times more valuable when it is granted permission for housing to be built. The groups said more of the uplift in value should be “captured” to provide community benefits. They also called on the Government to “reform the 1961 Land Compensation Act to clarify that local authorities should be able to compulsorily purchase land at fair market value that does not include prospective planning permission”.

Today, the Home Builders Federation, warns in a letter to The Sunday Telegraph that the campaign seeks a wholesale erosion of private property rights”.

An ideological attack on private landowners

SIR – Last week, in an open letter to the Housing Secretary, campaign lobby groups put forward the case for radical reform of the land market, claiming that developers “wriggle out of commitments”.

This is a gross misrepresentation of a system which, while imperfect, provides communities with billions of pounds worth of infrastructure and affordable housing each year, as a by-product of private housing delivery. As the state has moved away from direct provision of affordable homes, private developers now deliver half of all new affordable homes, making them the largest funder of traditional social rented homes.

This new campaign seeks an entire rewriting of the system and wholesale erosion of private property rights. The creation of a far more adversarial process would deter landowners from willingly selling land, resulting in taxpayer-funded legal disputes, fewer sites coming forward and fewer new homes being delivered.

The campaigners have ignored the Government’s existing plans to increase the transparency of the negotiations which currently determine the contributions that developers make to the local community. These plans, although not without some challenges, are a more practical, pragmatic and workable approach than the radical theory advanced by this campaign.

Reflecting the gravity of the housing crisis, housing supply has increased by 74 per cent in four years, the fastest increase on record, to the kind of levels seen in the immediate postwar years. After a few years of progress in addressing decades of undersupply, we must not become complacent. Compromising the delivery of homes for families to buy because of an ideological opposition to private housebuilders and landowners would do nothing to tackle the housing crisis.

Stewart Baseley

Executive Chairman
Home Builders Federation

London SE1

Call to punish residents of the substandard housing developments government has forced them to live in

I’m almost certain, that if asked most of those residents currently ‘guilty’ of pavement parking would rather not do so and would much prefer to park their vehicles on the road.

However, successive governments have allowed the build standards of our housing developments to be waterdown so much over the years, that developers can almost get away with providing dirt tracks within new developments.  All that the highway authority seem to be concerned about these days, is that the visibility splay of any new exit road, is sufficient where it joins a main highway.

Walking, or cycling around my council ward, one of the newest developed areas of Spalding, I don’t get angry at the residents who’ve parked on pavements – unless it’s clearly unnecessary and they’re just being total pillocks.  I feel frustrated, angry and more than a little embarrassed to be part of the process that created such poor quality developments.

Given that we are a rural area, we have little or no prospect of ever seeing a comprehensive bus service provided.  As such, we councils like ours should be given the powers to plan for housing that accommodate the use of the private car.  John Prescott, when Labour’s minister at DCLG, changed planning legislation that squeezed even more cars on to the roads and inevitably, the pavements of the country.

Changing parking standards in new developments to require a maximum level, instead of a minimum level, was a gift to developers and an instant blight on every new housing development in a rural area.

 

So what we are left with, is poor quality developments where the residents are forced to pavement park, or risk damage to their sole form of transport from a passing delivery truck, van, or even car.  Staying completely on the road, could even find themselves upsetting their neighbours, because their car prevents a delivery, or a visitor from accessing the neighbours property.  Where residents do pavement park, when it happens on both sides of a residential street, or road, it likely to prevent anything but a standard car to pass, making refuse collections impossible.  Need an ambulance, or fire engine urgently? Forget it, they’ll need to walk.

Seeking to punish such people, without consideration of their situation, is not something I would wish to endorse.  Selective warnings, with enforcement as a last resort, where pedestrian safety is a real concern, is the only acceptable approach.

Charities urge curbs on pavement parking

There are calls for the rest of England to follow London, where pavement parking has been banned since 1974
There are calls for the rest of England to follow London, where pavement parking has been banned since 1974LAUREN HURLEY/PA
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Motorists should be banned from parking on pavements to prevent pedestrians having to walk on the road, ministers have been told.

A coalition of charities is calling on the Department for Transport (DfT) to fast-track legislation designed to bar drivers from mounting the kerb.

In a letter to The Times, the groups criticise the government for “stalling” over the issue and say that action is needed to stop cars on congested streets spilling over on to the pavement.

The issue is particularly pressing for parents with prams, the elderly, those with disabilities and people who are blind and partially sighted, they say.

The letter is signed by 20 charities including the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, Living Streets, Age UK, British Cycling, Scope and The Ramblers. An open letter to the prime minister signed by 16,000 members of the public has also been delivered.

Almost three years ago the DfT suggested that a review of the law would be carried out as part of reforms designed to promote more cycling and walking, but it never materialised.

Today’s letter notes that it has been 1,000 days since ministers first proposed to take action. “Cars parked on the pavements force people into the road to face oncoming traffic, which is particularly dangerous for many, including blind and partially sighted people, parents with pushchairs and young children, wheelchair users and others who use mobility aids,” it says.

Xavier Brice, chief executive of Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, said: “We strongly support a banning of pavement parking. It is particularly dangerous for those who are blind and partially sighted, other less able people and people with push chairs.”

The DfT said: “We recognise the importance of making sure that pavement parking doesn’t put pedestrians at risk, and believe councils are best placed to make decisions about local restrictions.

“Councils already have the powers to ban drivers from parking on pavements and we are considering whether more can be done to make it easier for them to tackle problem areas. It is important to get this right for all pavement users.”

Another victim of incendiary devices sold on the high street

Copied for Sunday Telegraph online 8 July 2018

ANIMAL CRUELTY

New calls for ban after stray Chinese lantern sets horse alight

AN MP, farmers and the RSPCA have issued warnings over Chinese lanterns after a horse was set on fire and lost part of its tail.

Bastante, a seven-year-old point-to-point racehorse, was also left with a foot-long gaping wound on its leg after it bolted through a wire fence in shock after being hit by a lit lantern.

Sarah Sladen, Bastante’s owner, said it was disgusting that the lanterns were still allowed and called for a ban. “These things should be outlawed, it is as simple as that,” she said.

“The biggest problem is for the animals, because, if it falls into grass, [the lantern is] wire. Grass gets made into hay. You then end up with animals injured through eating the wire that gets into the bales of hay. It’s all of that. They should be got rid of, end of.”

The horse was seen by a vet, and is recovering.

Many have argued that the lanterns endanger wildlife, as they can cause fires, especially during hot weather.

Ruth George, MP for High Peak, had called for a lantern festival happening near her constituency in the Peak District to be cancelled over fire fears.

The event, which has since been called off, was to be held at Buxton Raceway, Derbys, on July 28, with thousands of lit lanterns to be sent into the sky over the Peak District, which has already been subject to fire warnings because of the dry conditions.

Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park, said: “We welcome the decision by Buxton Raceway to cancel the Manchester/Birmingham Lights Fest at Buxton on the doorstep of the Peak District National Park, which would have put our valuable landscapes, wildlife and farming livelihoods at risk… I share the public’s frustration that the organisers did not consider the impacts of sky lanterns before planning this event so close to the UK’s first National Park, and not least in light of recent wild fire incidents.”

Mike Thomas, a spokesman for the National Farmers’ Union, said: “There is plenty of evidence that shows they can harm animals. We continue to campaign for an outright ban.”

Dr Mark Kennedy, equine specialist at the RSPCA, described the incident with Bastante as “very distressing”. He said horses can be burned by lanterns, and “further injury can be caused as they panic and attempt to escape.” He added: “Even stabled horses are at risk from these devices; the consequence of a burning lantern drifting into a stable or barn full of highly combustible straw and hay are obvious and horrifying.”

Is this the day when it all starts to go wrong – again?

What a sad irony it would be, if yet another Conservative Party leader and only our second ever woman Prime Minster, suffered an ignominious departure, because she ignored the signs.

Copied from Daily Telegraph 7th July 2018

In a bid to appear pragmatic, Mrs May is losing the power battle with the EU

If Britain stood firm and said Brexit means Brexit, Brussels would be forced to deal with the situation

The Government has now found a policy on the Brexit negotiations. It unearthed it, apparently, in the cool, panelled rooms of Chequers last night. The instant wisdom is that it is a victory for the “pragmatists”.

In British – in particular, English – public culture, anyone claiming to be a pragmatist tends to win the advantage. A pragmatist is supposed to be an open-minded person who sees the facts as they are. The opposite of a pragmatist is an “ideologue” and/or a “fanatic”. Who, outside the wilder reaches of Isil or Momentum, wants to be one of them?

In recent weeks, Remainer activists have skilfully grabbed the pragmatic label. Leavers are presented as the raving ideologues. Trying to avoid cheap jibes about how poor, wild-eyed Tony Blair, noisy Anna Soubry and preposterous Lord Hailsham seem strikingly unpragmatic, I would like to investigate what this supposed pragmatism really is.

It goes wider than the Brexit issue. Essentially, it is the default position of those who have power in this country. In the 1970s, pragmatists coalesced round the idea that Britain must have a prices-and-incomes policy and a tripartite structure of government, business and unions to prevent inflation and economic collapse. This was espoused, with fanatical moderation, by the then Prime Minister, Ted Heath. People who opposed this view were dismissed as crazy “monetarists” on the one hand, or union “wreckers” on the other. The pragmatists prevailed. We duly had rampant inflation and came close to economic collapse.

At the end of the 1980s, having had a thin time under Margaret Thatcher, pragmatic forces at last got back together and insisted that Britain must join the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) of the European Monetary System. By semi-fixing our exchange rate with that of other European currencies, they said, we could impose the financial and economic disciplines we seemed not to be able to manage for ourselves. We joined. The pragmatists’ policy forced extreme rigidity upon our economy. After less than two years of punitive interest rates, and consequent austerity and business closures, the pound came tumbling out of the ERM on September 16 1992, and stayed out. Britain’s economic recovery began the next day and lasted until Gordon Brown’s premiership 15 years later.

In 2016, the pragmatists were unprepared for the EU referendum. They resented the very idea that voters should decide an issue that they considered far too complicated for them. Since they assumed that voters must dislike the EU only out of ignorance, their sole tactic was to frighten them about what they might lose. Despite (because of?) their disproportionate power in politics, big business, central banks, Whitehall and academia, they failed.

Two years on, they are trying essentially the same thing. You cannot blame a company such as Airbus or Jaguar Land Rover for asking the Government what on earth it is doing. All of us want to know that.

But all such companies’ claims about what they might lose from a “disorderly” Brexit assume no possible gains. They do not factor in the exchange rate. They equate a short-term problem with long-term disaster. They concentrate on (and exaggerate) what we might lose in exports to the EU, which make up 12 per cent of our GDP, rather than the opportunities our greater freedom might gain for the other 88 per cent. They equate comfortable arrangements they have made for themselves in Brussels with the general good. They present their fears for their own comforts as things that should frighten the rest of us. This is not impartial calculation, but vested interest getting all hot and bothered under its vest.

A true pragmatist thinks hard about the reality behind appearances. The Remainer pragmatists do not. They like the status quo. They do not try to imagine why so many of the rest of us don’t. In this sense, although they are full of information, they are impervious to the facts, which is a most unpragmatic state of mind.

They are also, did they but know it, in thrall to a powerful ideology. It goes back to Plato. It holds that rightly guided, educated people – “people like us”, as our pragmatists might put it – must run things. Its modern form is bureaucracy in the literal meaning of that word – power held by the bureau, rather than the elected representatives of the people.

National solidarity and representative democracy are based on the idea that all citizens have an equal right to choose their rulers. If they live under a system, such as the EU, which frustrates that right, they become profoundly alienated. People trying to reverse the referendum result, or empty it of meaning, may think they are applying common sense, but they are enforcing this anti-democratic bureaucratic ideology and increasing that alienation. If you do not understand why that matters, you are as unpragmatic as the ancien régime before the French Revolution, and may suffer the same fate. In the meantime, as the constituencies are starting to tell MPs, you lose the next election.

As the scene moves back to talks with Brussels, we shall all be reminded that the least pragmatic players in this whole, long story are the people with whom our pragmatists keep telling us to make a deal – the EU Commission. Two years of arguing with her own colleagues have brought Mrs May no closer to grappling with this, the most dogmatic body in the Western world.

No British pragmatist has even tried to explain why the pre-emptive cringes advocated, incredibly, as our opening bid in the trade talks will induce Michel Barnier to make the deal with Britain that has so far eluded us. Why should he be impressed by the “common rule book for all goods” that Mrs May seeks? He already has one: it is called the customs union. If he thinks she is weak, he will beat her down yet further. She has admitted in advance that her latest plan makes it impossible for post-Brexit Britain to make a trade deal with the US: that’s a funny triumph for pragmatism.

The true pragmatist’s approach to these negotiations should be based on an estimate of power. If they are structured – as Mrs May seeks – to obtain special favours for Britain, they will fail, because the power of favour rests with the Commission. What have we done to make it help us? If, on the other hand, Britain says it is leaving anyway, in letter and spirit, because that is what the referendum decided, then it cannot be stopped. Faced with that reality, the EU and Commission are forced to consider how to make the best of this – for them – bad job.

Compare the high Commission rhetoric about the inviolable sanctity of the open border with Northern Ireland with the new war of words about closing borders between Germany, Austria and Italy – contrary to the EU’s own Schengen rules – because of the migration crisis. The former is a goody-goody game; the latter is serious. Theoretical talk is quickly crowded out when reality becomes unavoidable.

In all this time, Mrs May has never got serious in our power battle with the EU. She shrinks from it. So she is gradually, pragmatically, losing.

Follow Charles Moore on twitter @CharlesHMoore; read more at telegraph.co.uk/opinion

A salutary lesson for any landowner tempted to turn blind eye to tenant’s activites

Landowners’ liability for occupiers’ abandoned waste

Angus Evers
Joanne Sear
United Kingdom May 25 2018

An unsuccessful appeal by a landowner against a conviction for knowingly permitting an unauthorised waste operation on its land has highlighted the risks to landowners of incurring criminal liability if former occupiers abandon waste on their land.

The High Court has recently clarified the circumstances in which landowners can face criminal liability for waste abandoned on their land by former occupiers. Commercial landlords need to be aware of the risks and consider how they might be minimised, because the judgment imposes virtually strict liability on landowners in circumstances where occupiers cease trading and abandon waste on their land.

Background

Salhouse Norwich Ltd owned a site in Norwich, which it leased to a mattress recycling business. The business did not have an environmental permit or a waste exemption. In August 2015, the Environment Agency served an enforcement notice on the tenant, requiring it to remove the mattresses. The tenant didn’t comply, and ceased trading, abandoning over 20,000 mattresses (weighing 471 tonnes).

The mattresses remained on the site after the tenant ceased trading. Salhouse Norwich proposed a remedial plan to attempt to clear the site, but the Environment Agency rejected it and charged Salhouse Norwich with the offence of knowingly permitting the storage of waste without an environmental permit. One of Salhouse Norwich’s directors was also charged in a personal capacity, because the company was said to have acted with his consent or connivance, or the offence was attributable to his neglect.

Both Salhouse Norwich and the director were convicted in the Magistrates’ Court, receiving a fine and 150 hours of unpaid community work respectively. They both appealed.

The appeal

On appeal, the High Court upheld the convictions and found that Salhouse Norwich and the director were guilty because:

  • the continued presence of the mattresses on the land after the tenant abandoned them amounted to a waste storage operation; and
  • they had known that the mattresses were present on the land, but had failed to ensure their removal.

All the Environment Agency therefore needed to prove was that Salhouse Norwich and the director knew that the mattresses were present on the land and had done nothing to prevent them being there. There was no need to prove any positive act by them.

What does the case mean for landowners?

The judgment is a harsh outcome for landowners, as it seems to require them to take positive action to clean up their land if former occupiers abandon waste on it. Once they are aware of the presence of a former occupier’s waste on their land, they are guilty of knowingly permitting an illegal waste storage operation if they do nothing to remove it.

In addition to or instead of prosecuting for carrying out illegal waste operations without a permit, the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and local authorities have powers to serve notices on landowners requiring the removal of waste when it has been illegally deposited or illegally stored on land. Failing to comply with such a notice is also an offence. As highlighted in our March 2018 update ‘Imminent changes to waste rules – it’s not all rubbish‘, these powers have recently been extended significantly, and the position now is that a landowner can also be served with a notice requiring it to remove waste when the waste was deposited with legal authority but where that authority has expired, when the occupier cannot be found, or when the occupier was served with a notice but didn’t comply with it. Landowners can also be charged landfill tax if they knowingly permit the illegal deposit of waste on their land.

Our experience is that, where possible and practicable, regulators will pursue occupiers in preference to landowners. However, regulators will look to landowners to make up the shortfall where an occupier has disappeared or become insolvent.

Before allowing a third party such as a tenant or licensee to occupy its land, a landowner should carefully consider the nature of the occupier’s business and whether it involves waste. If it does, the landowner should ask:

  • Are the necessary environmental permits and planning permissions in place for the occupier’s proposed use of the land?;
  • Is the occupier’s business established and reputable?;
  • Is the occupier’s business financially solvent?

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then the risk of the occupier disappearing and abandoning waste is reduced. Prevention in these circumstances in better than a cure.

Stone and Salhouse Norwich Ltd v Environment Agency [2018] EWHC 994 (Admin)