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

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:

  • Natural England—powers to investigate environmental crime
  • When does Natural England investigate?
  • What powers are available to Natural England for the investigation of environmental crime?
  • Powers to investigate where severe damage is caused to wildlife or habitats.
  • Power of entry to investigate damage caused to SSSIs
  • Investigation of breaches of Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (England) No 2 Regulations 2006
  • Investigation of offences relating to species licenses
  • Delegated powers of investigation under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985
  • Powers of entry to investigate offences under the Weeds Act 1959
  • Interviews under caution
  • More...

When does Natural England investigate?

There is an overlap between the responsibilities of the various enforcement bodies (eg the police, local authorities, the Environment Agency (EA), Natural England (NE), Natural Resources Wales (NRW)) that are responsible for crimes concerning the environment.

For information on the powers held by other environmental enforcement agencies, see Practice Notes:

  1. Environment Agency—powers to investigate environmental crime

  2. Natural Resources Wales—powers to investigate environmental crime

  3. Local authorities—powers to investigate environmental crime

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

NE is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which was established to conserve England’s wildlife, land and seas.

It has limited enforcement responsibilities under statute which deal predominantly with crimes affecting wildlife and its habitats. Specifically:

  1. under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (England) Regulations 2015, SI 2015/810 where severe environmental damage is caused to natural habitats, protected species or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). Note that NE is responsible where the damage is caused by an activity licensed by a local authority under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2016, SI 2016/1154, and the EA is responsible where the EA has issued the permit

  2. where damage is caused to SSSIs under Part II of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA 1981)

  3. for breaches of

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