Recycler of end-of-life vehicles loses court challenge against council

Tipperary County Council had refused to grant dismantler permit for his scrap yard

A dismantler and recycler of end-of-life vehicles has lost a High Court challenge against Tipperary County Council's refusal to grant him a waste facility permit for his scrap yard at Clontaffe, Killea, Templemore.

James Hennessy had asked Mr Justice Michael Moriarty to quash the local authority's decision and direct it to reconsider its decision and continue issuing him with end-of-life certificates for old or write-off vehicles.

Mr Hennessy had also sought a declaration that his application for the renewal of a permit was valid, and asked the court for orders restraining the council from taking threatened enforcement actions against him. He had also asked the court for damages for loss of business.

Judge Moriarty said Mr Hennessy was engaged in the collection, recycling and processing of waste in Co Tipperary and bordering counties and, with his wife, was the principal shareholder in a number of companies.

He carried on business in his own name, and through several companies, at a considerable waste-processing facility at Clontaffe, where he had four employees. A significant component of his activities was the collection and recycling of used or end-of-life-vehicles.

Mr Hennessy had been the holder of a three-year waste facility permit which had been valid until December 14th, 2011, but in 2010 a county council official had noticed during an inspection that a company, Hennessy Eco Limited, appeared to be involved in the operation without a valid permit.

Judge Moriarty said an application for a five-year permit had been made in September 2011, and the central issue in dispute was whether it was a joint application on behalf of Mr Hennessy and Hennessy Eco Limited or one solely for the benefit of the company which had entered a creditor’s voluntary liquidation in 2012.

Potential run-off

In May 2013 the county council had refused the application of Hennessy Eco Limited on grounds of insolvency, and an issue concerning the mitigation of potential run-off or contamination of a water course. In January 2015, the council told Mr Hennessy the continued operation at the Clontaffe site was unauthorised.

Judge Moriarty said Mr Hennessy carried out similar operations in Cork, and, following an inspection by officials of Cork County Council in July 2012, he had been arrested, detained by An Garda Síochána, prosecuted for failing to display a waste facility permit at the premises, convicted and fined.

The judge said Mr Hennessy had been under no obligation in his application to Tipperary County Council to tell them of the Cork conviction as it had occurred after his September 20ll application. He had since instituted judicial review proceedings against Cork County Council.

He said both sides in the Co Tipperary dispute accepted there was a degree of confusion as to the manner in which the application was processed, but he felt it reasonable for the council to conclude that the application was on behalf of Hennessy Eco Limited and not Mr Hennessy.

The court refused to hold that Mr Hennessy’s application was valid, and refused to quash the council’s refusal to grant him a permit.

Joint application

Judge Moriarty dismissed Mr Hennessy’s claim that there was provision in regulations for a joint application by a permit holder and a non-permit holder, and found he did not have a valid legitimate expectation for a renewal of his personal permit.

The court also dismissed Mr Hennessy’s application for an order directing the council to continue issuing end-of-life vehicle certificates and orders restraining enforcement actions by the council. While the local authority had erred in the process, a mistake by a public authority did not form the basis for abandoning statutory procedures.

Due to delay Mr Hennessy was now statute barred, the judge said.