Environmental civil sanctions—variable monetary penalties

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

  • Environmental civil sanctions—variable monetary penalties
  • Standard of proof
  • Maximum variable monetary penalties
  • Calculating variable monetary penalties
  • Procedure
  • Notice of intent
  • Right to make representations and objections
  • Third party undertaking
  • Final notice
  • Appeal against variable monetary penalty
  • More...

Environmental civil sanctions—variable monetary penalties

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.

Variable monetary penalties may be used instead of criminal sanctions for offences where imposing a financial penalty may change offender behaviour and deter others and/or lead to faster resolution. A variable monetary penalty does not carry the stigma of a criminal conviction. It may also provide a saving for the recipient in avoiding the need to pay for representation, and enable the recipient to offer a third party undertaking to make restitution

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