The Environment Agency in England and Wales will start using new enforcement powers, called civil sanctions, from 4 January 2011.
They give the environmental regulators a wider range of options to use against a business committing certain environmental offences as alternatives to prosecution and criminal penalties of fines and imprisonment.
They allow the Environment Agency to take action that is proportionate to the offence and the offender, and reflect the fact that most offences committed by businesses are unintentional.
The Environment Agency will still be able to use criminal punishments for serious offences.
- Compliance notice - written notice to take steps to ensure that an offence does not continue or recur.
- Restoration notice - written notice to restore harm caused by non-compliance.
- Enforcement undertaking - voluntary agreement by business to take corrective action to make up for non-compliance.
- Fixed monetary penalty - a low level penalty for minor offences fixed at £100 for an individual and £300 for a company.
- Variable monetary penalty - a monetary penalty for more serious offences with a maximum of £250,000.
- Stop notice - written notice to stop an activity which is causing harm.Civil sanctions have been introduced for a limited number of offences. Initially they will cover offences relating to harm to water resources, hazardous waste and packaging waste.
Other offences, including those covered by the Environmental Permitting regime, will be added by future legislation. The Orders specify which civil sanctions can be used for which offences.
Source of information: NetRegs