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Council welcomes Court ruling

Created on 31/07/2017 @ 07:59
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Powys County Council has welcomed a Court of Appeal ruling that says the council is not responsible for potential liabilities under legislation created after local government reorganisation.

The judgment published by the Court of Appeal overturns a previous High Court ruling that the county council could be liable under legislation that was introduced after the council was established in April 1996.

The appeal, which could have national significance for other local authorities, ruled that Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 - the contaminated land regime introduced in 2001 - could not be applied retrospectively to authorities established before that time.

Cabinet Member for Environmental Health, Councillor Jonathan Wilkinson said: “The county council rightly appealed a High Court decision that said it could be responsible for potentially contaminated land under legislation that was introduced five years after it was established.

“The case centred on land near Garth, Builth Wells, a former landfill site operated by Builth Wells Urban District Council and Brecknock Borough Council. The High Court had ruled that the county council was a ‘responsible person’ despite the legislation not being in place when it was established in 1996.  

“Today’s Court of Appeal unanimous decision has overturned the High Court ruling and confirmed that Powys County Council is not a ‘responsible person’ because Part IIA was not in effect at the time the former authorities were abolished and Powys County Council established,” Lord Justice Lloyd Jones said. “Part IIA does not operate retroactively so as to deem a predecessor body to have been under a liability which only arose under legislation which came into force after the predecessor body ceased to exist” and “Part IIA does not operate retrospectively to create a deemed liability prior to its commencement.”

Councillor Wilkinson said the council would be seeking an order for costs to cover both the High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings.

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