Environmental prosecution and enforcement policy
Produced in partnership with Christopher Badger of 6 Pump Court
Environmental prosecution and enforcement policy

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Christopher Badger of 6 Pump Court provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Environmental prosecution and enforcement policy
  • Environmental enforcement principles
  • Who enforces environmental laws in England and Wales and what remits do they have?
  • Environment Agency
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Natural England
  • Local Authorities
  • The purpose of enforcement and enforcement options
  • Determining the appropriate enforcement response
  • Availability of civil sanctions
  • More...

Environmental enforcement principles

Three principles form the basis of environmental protection in the UK:

  1. the preventative principle—promotes the prevention of environmental harm as opposed to remedying harm that has been caused and is often linked to the precautionary principle

  2. the precautionary principle—being ‘safe rather than sorry’ and where reasonable evidence exists, requires action to avoid potential negative impacts to be taken, instead of waiting for absolute proof, and

  3. the polluter pays principle—that anybody responsible for producing pollution should also be responsible for paying for the damage done to the environment as a result of that pollution

Who enforces environmental laws in England and Wales and what remits do they have?

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency (EA), as the primary enforcing body in England and Wales, is responsible for regulating a range of areas including pollution control, waste regulation, the management of water resources, flood and coastal risk management, fisheries, conservation and navigation. It employs a policy of firm but fair regulation which is underpinned by the principles of:

  1. proportionality in the application of the law and in securing compliance

  2. consistency of approach

  3. transparency about how enforcement operates and what those regulated may expect

  4. targeting of enforcement action, and

  5. accountability for the enforcement action

See Practice Notes: Environment Agency—powers to investigate environmental crime and Environment Agency (EA)—powers of entry.

Other relevant regulators include Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Natural England and local authorities.

Natural

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