SMEs Get More Time to Correct Environmental Offences

SMEs Get More Time to Correct Environmental Offences

13th November 2010

Businesses in breach of environmental regulations will have more leeway to put things right before facing prosecution, under new sanctions due to be introduced in January.

Under the civil sanctions, announced earlier this year by the Environment Agency, firms that unintentionally commit environmental offences will be given notice that they are in breach of laws, and will have more opportunity to repair damage and change their practices rather than being taken to court. The new sanctions will cover areas including the disposal of hazardous waste and water pollution.

The reforms mean that businesses which deliberately or recklessly cause environmental damage will still face legal action, but regulators will be able to be more flexible with other offenders before applying penalties.

“We will focus on prosecuting serious offenders and be more flexible when working with businesses that are trying to do the right thing but have made errors,”

said an Environment Agency spokeswoman.

“We are not saying that firms that deliberately flout laws will be let off the hook more easily, but we don’t want to waste taxpayers’ money on court cases when there are alternatives. The new sanctions give us alternative ways to put damage right and we think that will help both the environment and businesses. The consequences of failing to comply with the laws will be more proportionate.”

From 4 January 2011, offending firms could face a:

  • Compliance notice — a written notice to take steps to ensure an offence does not recur or continue
  • Restoration notice — a written notice to repair damage caused
  • Enforcement undertaking — a voluntary agreement for the business to take corrective action
  • Fixed monetary penalty — a penalty of £300 for minor offences
  • Variable monetary penalty — a penalty for more serious offences, up to a maximum of £250,000
  • Stop notice — a written notice to stop an activity which harms the environment.

For more information about the new sanctions, visit the website of the Environment Agency.

SMEs Get More Time to Correct Environmental Offences

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