Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Press release

Rugby Cement - House of Lords judgement

*Residents of Rugby have lost their appeal about the way a permit which allows the Rugby Cement Works to operate was granted. They have claimed that information was wrongly withheld by the Environment Agency, that the permit-granting process did not comply with EU pollution control rules, and that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was required - in circumstances where the works had never had one at all in relation to pollution control and was now operating as a waste disposal facility for waste tyres and is about to be used for incinerating household waste.

The Law Lords decided that although EIA might have been necessary (they were not sure) for the works becoming a waste disposal installation for old tyres, and some Law Lords thought that information withheld about the extent of particulate pollution should have been publicised, they agreed that there was in fact sufficient information in the public domain such that any requirement for EIA was fulfilled. Overall it was wrong, in their discretion, for the permit to be quashed and have to be reconsidered by the Environment Agency.

"This is a bad day for the people of Rugby" said Lilian Pallikaropoulos, who has been leading the campaign against the way Cemex, who now own Rugby Cement, obtained permission to operate the plant, and several other permissions dependant on it. "I have only just seen the judgement so it is hard to comment further, but it seems the House of Lords has ignored the very real concerns of local people living in the shadow of this huge plant and all the dust and other air pollution it causes and sided with the Environment Agency, which even the other courts agreed acted unfairly. I will be consulting with our legal team about what can be done."

Richard Buxton, the solicitor representing the residents, said that this judgement was a setback both for residents of Rugby and environmental law generally. "The House of Lords did, fortunately, recognise that they were possibly dealing with a waste disposal installation. Burning waste tyres cannot, as our opponents have claimed, be explained away as just a change in fuel. But otherwise it's a real shame. This could have been a signal to the world from the highest court in the land that environmental rules and procedures have to be followed. Instead the judgement is a step back from the strict approach to environmental law enforcement that the EU requires. The judgement reflects the old-fashioned slippery slope of British discretion which we thought the courts had realised was just not appropriate in these types of case. EU law demands you abide by the rules and it is surprising that the Law Lords decided to excuse what we (and the High Court and Court of Appeal) regarded as wholly unfair conduct by the Environment Agency in this case. Fortunately, even though this was a decision of the House of Lords, EU law offers ways forward on various fronts and we will be considering options carefully with our long-suffering clients".

On 15 April a shocked community member reported to the RUGBY CEMENT COMMUNITY FORUM subgroup how she had just discovered the surprising news, that had not been revealed to them before, (despite several opportunities for Cemex at RCCF meetings), nor apparently revealed to WCC officers/Regulatory Committee , that the "Climafuel" trials had actually started on 28th February - a month before the unconstitutional site visit (held with no witnesses) took place to inspect the unauthorised building. Apparently Officers and Councillors saw Climafuel stored there in the "unauthorised" building on 25th March but were not told, and but did not think to ask, if the Climafuel was being burnt already, and if not when would it start, apparently preferring to concentrate instead on the vitally important and pertinent question concerning where the objectors lived!


Oh dear - I don't think so - how wrong can you get? All wet and semi-wet pants are being closed down in Europe, but not in the UK, and there is a climate of suspicion, fear and distrust in Rugby - which has certainly not been helped by the events of the last two days! Rugby residents are suffering ever more from the presence of the monstrous plume which hovers ominously over the town as the chalk slurry is dried out above our heads, from the energy-hungry inefficient semi-wet process plant, which never was and never could be Best Available Technique! It is a case more of BATS than of BAT!

No comments: