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

The following Corporate Crime guidance 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?
  • Offences relating to s 108 powers
  • Other powers and related offences
  • Interviews under caution
  • Offence of obstruction
  • Practical tips for dealing with an investigation

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