Tim Green successfully defends Birmingham City Council from MP’s challenge to green waste policy
At a hearing on 10 October before Judge Zara, Tim Green successfully defended Birmingham City Council against an application for a Litter Abatement Order made by John Hemming MP.
Mr Hemming had challenged the Council’s policy of charging £35 per household for collecting green waste from homes across Birmingham. The charging policy was introduced in February 2014 after enabling legislation came into force in 2012. Whilst 50,000 households in Birmingham now pay for the green bins to be collected doubling the amount of green waste recycled and saving the Council £2.5m, other households had ignored the charge and simply fly-tipped their green waste in the streets. The Council had a policy of dealing with fly-tipping by taking steps to educate households in the reasons for the charge and then by taking enforcement action against fly-tippers. The Council’s policy was only to remove fly-tipped green waste after enforcement measures had failed.
Mr Hemming is MP for Yardley and challenged this policy. He sought to persuade the District Judge Zara to make a Litter Abatement Order for the whole of Yardley which would compel the Council to remove fly-tipped green waste from Yardley as it appeared. Mr Hemming has criticised the Council’s policy in the media and if Mr Hemming’s application had been successful, the policy of charging for green waste collections in Birmingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and other cities across England and Wales would have been thrown into doubt.
Instructed by the Council, Tim Green successfully resisted the MP’s challenge. Tim argued that the Judge does not have the power to make the order that Hemming applied for and that it was improper to challenge the Council’s lawful policy in this way. Tim submitted the MP had mis-applied the Environmental Protection Act.
The Judge agreed and dismissed Hemming’s application ordering the MP to pay the entirety of the Council’s costs.
The decision is of great importance to the environmental policy of all local authorities who will be reassured that charging for green waste collections and taking enforcement action against fly-tippers who defy the policy remains lawful. Mr Hemming indicated he may try to appeal the decision by stating a case to the High Court.
Barristers: Tim Green