The mineral and waste directives have different definitions of waste which is causing issues for mining operators. Rebecca Carriage discusses how this conflict is being addressed by government departments and the sector.
Waste can be a thorny issue for the minerals sector. But its issues are not the same as for waste operators, with whom it often appears to be confused by regulators. This was sharply illustrated during the transposition of the Mining Waste Directive but there are other implications.
The fundamental problem is that the definition of waste in the Waste Framework Directive sounds subjective. It is any substance or object which the holder intends to or is required to discard. But the European Court of Justice and the UK’s domestic case law has always treated the definition as essentially objective to give, as those courts see it, a high level of environmental protection. This means that material the sector often would not consider to be waste might fall within the definition.
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