2 minutes

Environment Agency is responsible for enforcing the laws in England designed to protect the environment. They use their regulatory powers to ensure compliance and will deploy enforcement and sanctioning options were necessary.

The EAs core objective is to:

  • stop illegal activity from occurring or continuing
  • put right environmental harm or damage where it occurs
  • bring illegal activity under regulatory control, and ensure compliance with the law
  • punish offenders and deter future offending

As an organisation they prioritise and pursue investigations that involve:

  • serious environmental harm or harm to human health
  • organised crime
  • overt criminal activity
  • substantial illegal gain
  • threats of violence
  • other aggravating factors

When they carry out any enforcement activity they aim to:

  • change the behaviour of the offender
  • remove any financial gain or benefit arising from the breach
  • be responsive and consider what is appropriate for the particular offender and regulatory issue, including punishment and the public stigma that should be associated with a criminal conviction
  • be proportionate to the nature of the breach and the harm caused
  • take steps to ensure any harm or damage is restored
  • deter future breaches by the offender and others

Enforcement activity can take either or both of the following forms:

Enforcement Notice – An individual or Organisation found to be in breach or compliance with Environmental legislation can be issued with a notice to clean up or comply with a request within a certain time frame. Failure to comply may result in court proceedings.
Court Case – A serious breach of the regulations or failure to comply with a notice could result in court action against an individual or organisation.

A court case may result in a criminal record for named individuals, or sanctions against company directors such as disqualification or confiscation of assets, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Please note that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own Environmental Regulators.