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Kent County Council v Queensborough Rolling Mills Ltd.


Controlled waste and "useful purpose" The grading of material which was controlled waste did not take it out of the ambit of controlled waste simply because it was put to a useful purpose.


Act, Regulation or Reference:

Control of Pollution Act 1974, ss.3 and 5

Date: 1990


Kent County Council appealed against the decision of the magistrates' court to acquit the respondents of charges under ss.3 and 5 of COPA. The material in question had been deposited by contractors for the respondents. The question was, in light of the material being deposited for a useful purpose, whether it remained "controlled waste" for the purposes of the 1974 Act and s.30 thereof. The material had been removed from the site of a former porcelain factory and graded into four categories. The contractors had offered to supply the respondents with one particular grade as ballast for infill.

The Decision

Allowing the appeal, the court concluded that the purpose to which the material was put was not conclusive, but had to be considered at the time of removal when it was something which had been discarded.
When the material was removed it was within the ambit of "controlled waste" contained in s.30 of COPA. The use to which it was subsequently put did not change its character. The fact that it had been graded did not mean it was not waste. If the waste had been reconstituted or recycled there would have been different considerations.


The material, although very suitable for the repair of the defendant's jetty, the foundations of which had been scoured by the seas, had been discarded many years ago from a factory site as waste and was therefore industrial and thus controlled waste.
Under the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (SI 1994 No. 1056) and according to DoE Circular 11/94, it is likely that these substances or objects, although used for construction purposes, had previously fallen out of the commercial cycle or out of the chain of utility and would, therefore, also be viewed by the courts as waste.