Local authorities—powers to investigate environmental crime
Produced in partnership with Laura Phillips of 6 Pump Court

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

  • Local authorities—powers to investigate environmental crime
  • When do local authorities investigate environmental offences?
  • What powers are available to local authorities for the investigation of offences?
  • Powers of entry
  • Power to obtain information/question
  • Offences relating to s 108 powers
  • Other powers and related offences
  • Power to require information
  • Power to seize vehicles suspected of being involved in the illegal transport of waste
  • Power to require the removal of waste unlawfully kept or disposed of in or on land
  • More...

Local authorities—powers to investigate environmental crime

When do local authorities investigate environmental offences?

Environmental offences cover a broad range of crimes which affect the surroundings we live in. Local authorities are generally responsible for the investigation, enforcement and prosecution of less serious environmental offences.

There is an overlap between the responsibilities of the various enforcement bodies, namely, local authorities, the Environment Agency (EA), the Natural England (NE) and the Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

For information on the enforcement of environmental offences generally, see Practice Note: Environmental prosecution and enforcement policy.

For information on the powers of the EA, see Practice Note: Environment Agency—powers to investigate environmental crime and Environment Agency (EA)—powers of entry.

For information on the powers of NE, see Practice Note: Natural England—powers to investigate environmental crime.

For information on the powers of NRW, see Practice Note: Natural Resources Wales—powers to investigate environmental crime.

Where responsibility is not specifically designated by statute, it is generally dealt with through Protocols or Memorandums of Understandings, for example, the Working Better Together Protocol 6: Fly-tipping and illegal waste activities (January 2005) between the EA and Local Government Association/Welsh Local Government Association.

Offences that local authorities are responsible for investigating and enforcing include:

  1. fly-tipping, including:

    1. offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990) for deposits less than 20 cubic metres

    2. waste operations without planning consent

    3. fly-tipping by waste producers and householders and drums or

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