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R (National Grid Gas Plc (Formerly Transco Plc)) v Environment Agency

The terms of the relevant statutory provisions contained in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 demonstrated that Parliament’s clear intention was that primary responsibility for the remediation of contaminated land should rest on the original polluter. Therefore, the term ‘appropriate person’ should be construed to include not just the original polluter, but also its statutory successors where there was a regime in place, such as that constituted by the Gas Act 1972 and the Gas Act 1986, to ensure legal continuity.

2 June 2006

The claimant gas company (T) applied for judicial review of a decision of the defendant (E) that T was an “appropriate person” within Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in respect of a contaminated piece of land. The land had been the site of a gas works operated by T that had subsequently been developed for housing. Contamination from the gas works was discovered to have affected the land, and E decided that T was an appropriate person to pay for the necessary remedial work for the purposes of the 1990 Act on the basis that the contamination had been caused by one or more of T’s statutory predecessors that had operated at the site. T submitted that: (1) E’s decision was wrong in law as T did not come within the ambit of s 78F of the 1990 Act because it had not itself knowingly caused or permitted the contamination; (2) there was no existing liability to be transferred under the Gas Act 1972 and the Gas Act 1986 because there was no evidence that the site was ...

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