ARCHIVE: Fairer and better environmental enforcement project
From 6 April 2010 the Environment Agency, in England, and Natural England were given powers to impose civil sanctions as part of a more proportionate, fairer and more effective environmental enforcement system. Regulators will have a more flexible enforcement toolkit to deal with a range of non-compliance.
The new civil sanctions have been made available under the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 and secondary legislation. Proposals on secondary legislation were consulted upon last year.
Regulator advice and guidance to business remains the cornerstone of environmental enforcement, and in many cases will continue to be a sufficient enforcement response. Civil sanctions provide an alternative to criminal prosecution in suitable cases, typically where non-compliance occurs despite a good general approach to compliance. Civil sanctions will enable regulators to more fairly recognise the efforts the majority of businesses make to comply. The worst cases will continue to be brought before the criminal courts.
Civil sanctions include enforcement notices requiring compliance or restoration of harm; and fixed or variable monetary penalties. Regulators will also be able for the first time to accept a voluntary and binding commitment, an enforcement undertaking, from a business to remedy non-compliance and its effects, in place of other sanctions. Variable monetary penalties will allow the regulator to remove financial benefit from non-compliance, helping to level the playing field for compliant businesses.
The new approach enables regulators to give priority to securing compliance and to restoration of environmental harm and adverse effects on local communities ahead of fines. This will bring benefits for the environment and for society, as well as enabling a non-compliant business to more quickly rebuild its reputation.
Page last modified: 21 May 2010