Under new legislation, the regulators will be able to:
- Levy fines on polluters;
- Issue compliance notices ordering businesses to cease activities causing environmental damage and to remedy any damage already caused;
- Demand 'enforcement undertakings' whereby businesses agree to remedy environmental damage or face the consequences for failing to do so.
These new powers increase the options available to regulators and provide an alternative to criminal prosecution.
The existing system was considered to be too reliant on costly and time-consuming criminal prosecutions. Regulators say a lot of non-compliance by businesses is unintentional and the new penalties will be more proportionate in some cases.
Announcing the new powers, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said:
"These new powers will help make the system fairer for the law-abiding majority of businesses and will give regulators a practical and effective alternative to prosecution.
"The Environment Agency and Natural England, the first bodies to be given these powers, will have access to flexible and proportionate sanctions that will strengthen the protection of the environment and human health when tackling businesses who break the law."
** Additional information & advice **
Alternatively, you may want to speak with a solicitor who specialises in environmental law.