Refused applications

08 October 2009

Transform, the WEEE compliance scheme operated by Biffa has had its application to operate for 2010, 2011 and 2012 refused by the Environment Agency.

Speaking on behalf of the Company, Environment and External Affairs Director David Savory said: “This decision came as a complete surprise to us as we had received no warning that there were any problems or issues with our application, and we do not accept the decision of the Environment Agency or the grounds for refusal. We are now in discussion with the EA with a view to securing a resolution early next week”.

In similar news, Econo-Weee has sent the following email to all of its members:
It is now common knowledge that the Environment Agency has turned down Econo-Weee's application to operate a WEEE Compliance Scheme for the period 2010-12 and you will have had an email from us and a letter from the Environment Agency to this effect. The decision took us completely by surprise and we had no prior warning that the Agency was even considering refusing our application. However, for reasons that will be uncovered in due course, it did and we would now like to bring you up-to-date with the situation.

First, the reason given by the Environment Agency for rejecting the application. Under the WEEE Regulations, a Scheme has to have in place a 'viable plan' to collect an amount of WEEE equivalent to its obligation.

We submitted our Operational Plan and Viable Plan with a 700t shortage, but considered this to be an insignificant amount – indeed, it represents only 0.17% of the total amount of WEEE collected across the UK last year. Nonetheless, as this 700t arises from one individual member of the Scheme, we told the Environment Agency that, as a last resort, we would serve notice on that member, terminating its membership at the end of the current compliance period. This would, of course, remove the 700t deficit and align our viable plan to our projected obligation.

For some reason, the Environment Agency chose not to give us the opportunity to take this course of action and, completely out of the blue, we had a call on the afternoon of Thursday 1 October notifying us that our application had been refused. David Adams, Co-Director of Econo-Weee, immediately arranged a conference call with the Agency officer responsible, Robert Scarpello, and we both spoke to him. During that call, Mr. Scarpello made it absolutely clear that the decision had been made and that our only course of action was to appeal. David then asked him, "Are you saying that, even if we serve notice on the member [responsible for the 700t] today, the Agency will still not approve our application?", and he replied, "Yes". We invite you to form your own opinion on this point.

We are now working furiously to try to resolve this situation and have two broad options. Our first option is to submit an appeal based on a varied application. If the Agency agrees not to oppose such an application and DEFRA agrees to hear it, then it is possible that it could be determined very quickly. Our solicitors are working on this option now. Our second option is to seek a High Court injunction in an attempt to suspend the Agency's decision pending an appeal. In preparation of this, I served notice on the Agency on Friday that we would be taking this action.

The above measures notwithstanding, we appreciate that the immediate problem for you, as one of our members, is to ensure that you are all legally compliant by 15 October. Should either the appeal or injunction succeed, then you will be compliant as a member of Econo-Weee. However, as a contingency measure, we have reached an agreement with another Scheme, to register you with the Agency through it. This will be a completely painless process – you will still effectively register through Econo-Weee, there will be no cost implications, you will keep the same WEEE Registration Number and continue to submit your data in the normal way. Of course, we hope it does not come to this, but we have to cover all possibilities.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our members who have contacted us with their support. On a personal level, this is very gratifying and very much appreciated.

I will be in touch again as soon as there is anything else to report.


John L.D. Kerr

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