18 August, 2023
The Environment Agency is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of numerous regulatory and criminal offences. As an alternative to criminal prosecution, financial sanctions can be imposed under the guidelines of the Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010.
In an announcement this week, the Environment Agency stated that it was seeking to remove the existing cap of £250,000 on penalties. Instead, they aim to replace it with unrestricted financial sanctions. Furthermore, the Agency would seek to introduce unlimited variable monetary penalties as a civil sanction in the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.
The removal of the overall cap for variable monetary penalties will apply to all the existing offences covered by variable monetary penalties under the Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010 and the Environmental Civil Sanctions Regulations 2010. They will be extended to cover the offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulations.
At present, under Environmental Civil Sanctions Order and the Environmental Civil Sanctions Regulations, variable monetary penalties can be used for offences under the following legislation:
Extending variable monetary penalties to the Environmental Permitting Regulations will mean that activities regulated under an Environmental Permit will also be included. These activities are:
In a statement, The Environment Agency, commented:
"This offers regulators a quicker method of enforcement than lengthy and costly criminal prosecutions - although the most serious cases will continue to be taken through criminal proceedings.
The changes will ensure regulators have the right tools to drive compliance across a range of sectors, strengthening enforcement and holding all who hold environmental permits to greater account - from energy and water companies to waste operators and incinerators.
All future environmental fines and penalties from water companies will be put into a new Water Restoration Fund, which will be re-invested back into the environment by supporting local groups and community-led schemes."
If you are facing an investigation or prosecution for any alleged crime or regulatory breach, it is vital to seek early legal advice. The powers available to regulators are wide-ranging, and it should not be thought that non-court disposal comes without potentially significant financial and reputation repercussions.
Our regulatory solicitors are industry-leading and committed to delivering excellence. We offer a 'cutting edge, best in class service' and excel in representing professionals and prominent individuals. Increasingly, the department receives instructions from those who want a better service and calibre of lawyer than is typically available on Legal Aid. Rather than settle for what the State is prepared to pay for, those who value their reputation, livelihood, and liberty are more frequently opting to appoint private criminal defence solicitors.
Our team of waste management solicitors act in thousands of cases every year, often in the most serious and most high-profile cases before the Courts. The firm has significant resources and uses the latest technology to prepare cases. Our private criminal defence team will treat you and your case with integrity, sensitivity, and a 'laser focus' towards obtaining a successful outcome for you from the moment of instruction. To find out more about our waste management solicitors click here.
Our waste management solicitors keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that they are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact Craig MacKenzie or Paige Dobson in the High-Profile & Private Crime Division who are currently defending a number of cases that are being prosecuted by The Environment Agency.
For more information contact Craig MacKenzie in our Regulatory department via email or phone on 01772 220 022. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
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