Environmental damage—when does the environmental damage regime apply?
Environmental damage—when does the environmental damage regime apply?

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

  • Environmental damage—when does the environmental damage regime apply?
  • Brexit impact
  • Time of the damage
  • Scope of the damage
  • Location of the damage
  • Activities causing the damage
  • Authorised damage
  • Exemptions

Updated in partnership with Begonia Filgueira of Foot Anstey

The environmental damage regime (EDR) applies to environmental damage in England and Wales. It requires operators of activities responsible for serious environmental incidents to prevent and remedy the damage. Liability is based on the polluter-pays principle.

See Practice Notes: Environmental damage—potential liabilities and Environmental damage regulations—overview.

Environmental damage is damage to:

  1. a protected species or natural habitat that has a significant adverse effect on reaching or maintaining the favourable conservation status of the species or habitat

  2. a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) that has an adverse effect on the integrity of the site

  3. surface water or groundwater that triggers a drop in the status of the water body

  4. land that results in a significant risk of adverse effects on human health

  5. marine waters

Defra has produced a decision tree for determining whether or not EDR applies.

See Practice Note: Environmental damage—what does it cover?

Brexit impact

As of exit day (31 January 2020), the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this content.

For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—impact on environmental law and News Analysis: Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources.