The judicial review sought in R. (on the application of Baci Bedfordshire Ltd) v Environment Agency has been dismissed.

Baci Bedfordshire Ltd, an action group of local residents, sought the review against the Environment Agency, who granted Covanta Energy Ltd an Environmental Permit under the Environmental Permitting Regulations SI 2016/1154.

The Permit was for an energy recovery facility and allowed a proposed operation for an emissions management system in relation to fugitive emissions from Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA). Baci Bedfordshire Ltd concluded that there was a risk of unmonitored discharge of toxic, heavy metals via surface water damage into the nearby lake. The lake feeds into the River Ouse system and into public drinking water. This would breach Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions and the Environmental Permitting Regulations SI 2016/1154.

Covanta in their Supporting Information stated that any heavy metals within the IBA will be present as salts, these would be retained in solution when mixed with water and would not be expected to dissolve, which was proven wrong.

Information suggested the interceptors in the surface water drainage system would prevent the discharge of suspended solids. As Covanta believed the heavy metals would not dissolve, they assumed the metals would be included in the suspended solids collected, and therefore would not discharge into the surface water systems. This was proved to be incorrect.

Both the Environment Agency and Covanta accepted the error made by Covanta, but denied that the Environment Agency relied upon the error when granting the Permit. The risk of unmonitored discharge of toxic dissolved heavy metals into the surface water drainage system was also denied.

The Judge concluded she was satisfied the Environment Agency had not made the same mistake as Covanta and that necessary measures were in place to ensure only uncontaminated surface water would enter the attenuation pond and lake.

She added "it is impossible to characterise the Defendant's assessment as irrational, or based on incorrect science". The claim was dismissed.

The Responsible Car Wash Scheme is targeting labour abuse and safety breaches, with the aim to protect vulnerable workers in the UK's hand car washes, to help tackle modern slavery and other "crimes hiding in plain sight", says IOSH.

This Scheme follows the launch of the mobile app earlier this year to report signs of modern slavery at car washes.

The Scheme will be piloted in the Midlands next month and car wash operators are able to sign up. The scheme allows consumers the opportunity to recognise the 'Responsible Car Wash Operator' logo, which confirms the business are looking after workers, the environment and trade legally.

IOSH note the scheme is a "positive step" towards tackling labour abuse and urging other industries to follow suit. Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at IOSH stated "many hand car washes are responsible businesses that protect workers and the environment, and they will be highlighted by this. At the same time, those car washes which don't comply will be encouraged to do so".

He continued "all workers in all industries have a right to be protected by their employers".

The scheme has been developed by the Downstream Fuel Association alongside the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Police, the Health and Safety Executive, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, the Environment Agency and the Car Wash Association. Anti-slavery charity Unseen has also been involved and supported by five major supermarkets.

There is an estimated 20,000 hand car washes in the UK, whilst many operate within the law, there have been reports from Government agencies of others not doing so. Issues include modern slavery, failure to pay proper wages and not supplying workers with appropriate equipment.

Figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has shown the proportion of fatal injuries to workers over the age of 60 is the highest it has been in over a decade. This highlighting the urgent need for greater workplace precautions to protect older workers.

Nearly 40% of fatal injuries in 2017/18, up from approximately 25% last year, were to workers aged 60 and over. This is despite the age bracket making up just 10% of the national workforce. This means there were 55 older-worker deaths, more than one a week on average.

The statistics show how the rate of fatal injury increases with age, with workers aged 60-64 having a rate more than double the all ages rate, and workers aged 65 and over having a rate around five times greater than the all ages rate. 

Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) stated that our working lives are getting longer and older workers are an important resource to provide invaluable expertise and experience. Hazardous industries such as agriculture and construction have an ageing work force, with many of them self employed, and many experiencing economic pressures.

He continued "sadly, the statistics released yesterday by the HSE paint a worrying picture of how many workers across the country are still facing risks in the workplace and having their lives tragically cut short".

"Good occupational safety and health management helps ensure that all workers, young and old, can fulfil their potential at work and come home safe".

The HSE suggest today's workforce are likely to contain a higher proportion of older workers because of factors such as increased life expectancy, removal of the default retirement age and raising of the State Pension Age, which means that many people will need, and want to continue working.

While older workers are less likely than younger workers to have occupational accidents, accidents involving older workers are more likely to result in more serious injuries, permanent disabilities or death.

As a result IOSH, through its support for the EU-OSHA campaign on 'healthy workplaces for all ages' has encouraged greater preventative measures to be taken to protect older workers.

For more information on this subject, please see:

A Liverpool-based waste and recycling company was fined and its Director jailed at the end of October, following the death of a 39 year old worker.

Gaskell's (North West) Limited and its Director were sentenced both for their part in the worker's death in 2010, and for continuing to operate the same baling machine in a dangerous manner for up to five years after the death.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how the worker died whilst working at Gaskell's Waste Services in 2010. The company was operating a machine used to compress recyclable and waste materials into small bales which had a defeated interlock system, enabling a worker to enter the machine while it was still in operation.

The employee had entered the baling chamber of the machine to clear a blockage of waste materials that had caused the machine to stop. The machine automatically activated, resulting in the employee suffering haemorrhaging, shock and severe traumatic injury to both legs. He died on the way to hospital.

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Merseyside Police found that the baler's safety interlock system had been defeated two months earlier. Poor maintenance of the machine meant it required frequent operator intervention.

HSE inspectors visited the site in 2015, having been informed that the company continued to use the same machine with further critical safety issues, five years after the death. The machine could be operated whilst the guarding was open, meaning it could still run and production could continue with the operator being put at serious risk of injury. This was noted as a serious aggravating factor by the Judge upon sentencing.

Gaskell's pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company has been fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £99,886.57. Gaskell's Director, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

HSE Inspector Phil Redman commented that "this incident was completely avoidable and it is inconceivable that Gaskell's continued to operate the same dangerous machine in the way it did for as long as five years after this incident."

"Companies should be aware that HSE will not accept the defeating of safety systems in order to maintain production and will not hesitate to take action against those that fall below that required standards."

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has responded to the Government's Consultation on permitted development for shale gas exploration. They have responded to the Consultation as an "abuse" to the system and considered whether such a development should be decided under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime.

The RTPI warns about the scale and complexity of exploratory drilling "entirely dwarfs" development that currently falls under permitted development rights. They noted permitted development ignores the highly sensitive local issues and environmental hazards associated with shale gas exploration.

As permitted development rights are designed for small scale development, the RTPI say they should not be applied to a "complex, disruptive and highly contested exploration process for which it is not suited". They added that using them this way devalues the plan-led system for minerals planning in England.

Richard Blyth, RTPI head of policy and research states that "permitted development is not appropriate" and is a false economy.

"Capacity and costs implications for local planning teams aside, we do not agree that control of such significant developments should bypass a proper local, professional and democratic process".

The proposals would see companies wanting to explore for shale gas, have to give notification to Local Authority before they can start on site. The fees, suggested as £200 per notification, are "wholly insufficient to cover the amount of work [councils] need to do to make exploration safe and satisfactory".

"The prior notification process will either take so long that it ends up as protracted as a planning application, or it is done so scantily that it fails to make the proper safeguards and provokes community objections."

For more information on this subject, see:

Christmas TV advert banned
Published: 09 Nov 2018

Iceland's Christmas advert for television has been banned by Clearcast, the body responsible for vetting adverts before they are broadcast, as there are fears it is too political.

The advert uses a Greenpeace animated video designed to bring to light the impact that the destruction of the rainforest at the hands of palm oil growers can have on habitats. Ultimately, Iceland struck a deal to use the film to advertise the fact that they have pledged to remove palm oil from its own-brand foods.

In the film, we see a girl in her bedroom, frustrated at the chaos that an orangutan is causing there. She then asks the orangutan to leave, but not before asking why it was in her bedroom in the first place. The animation, narrated by Dame Emma Thompson, then shows images of rainforest destruction by humans for the purposes of food, products and palm oil, with the orangutan distressed that its home and family have been taken away. The little girl then pledges to help raise awareness of the problem.

Whilst the environmental message behind the advert is admirable, Clearcast said "Clearcast and the broadcasters have to date been unable to clear this Iceland ad because we concerned that it doesn’t comply with the political rules of the BCAP code," which is the Broadcast Code of Advertising Practice. "The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area.”

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, said, "Throughout 2018 we have led the retail industry to take action in areas such as rainforest destruction for palm oil and plastic pollution of our oceans. This year we were keen to do something different with our much anticipated Christmas advert. The culmination of our palm oil project is offering our customers the choice of an orangutan friendly Christmas, and we wanted to reflect this in our advertising.

"While our advert sadly never made it to TV screens, we are hopeful that consumers will take to social media to view the film, which raises awareness of an important global issue. Our commitment to help protect the home of orangutans remains extremely close to our hearts. We are proud to be encouraging consumers to make more sustainable choices, even without the support of TV advertising, ahead of the Christmas shopping season."

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