Environmental civil sanctions—compliance notices

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Environmental civil sanctions—compliance notices
  • Procedure
  • Notice of intent
  • Right to make representations or objections
  • Third party undertaking
  • Final notice
  • Appeals against compliance notices
  • Non-compliance penalties
  • Relief from criminal liability
  • Enforcement costs recovery notice

Environmental civil sanctions—compliance notices

Reviewed by Professor Richard Macrory.

Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 (RESA 2008) enables regulators to be given powers to deal with offences using six new civil sanctions, instead of prosecuting. In 2010 powers were given to the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural England (NE) for a number of environmental offences. In 2015, the scope of civil sanctions was extended when the EA was given power to accept enforcement undertakings in respect of environmental permitting offences.

The Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010, SI 2010/1157 applies in England and the Environmental Civil Sanctions (Wales) Order 2010, SI 2010/1821 applies in Wales. Schedule 5 of both regulations specifies which sanctions are available for each offence.

The EA began using its powers on 4 January 2011. NE started using its powers from 3 January 2012. From 1 April 2013, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has been responsible for enforcing environmental civil sanctions in Wales.

Compliance notices require the offender to come back into compliance with the relevant legal requirements. The notice should ensure that the offender takes action to:

  1. stop the non-compliance

  2. address the underlying causes, and

  3. come back into compliance

The EA guidance indicates that they may be used where previous advice or guidance to encourage compliance has not been followed and a formal notice has become necessary to ensure compliance. They can be combined with a

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