Although some violations of environmental legislation are criminal in nature, not all of them are.

There are a variety of potential consequences that are not typically associated with regular criminal offences. Even if a criminal offence has occurred, judicial proceedings and everything that it implies can frequently be avoided.

As a result, it is critical that you get legal assistance at the onset of any Environment Agency inquiry, as we are best positioned to ensure that you leave with the least amount of punishment possible if you have committed any wrongdoing.

Any enforcement action must be proportionate and appropriate, and prosecution is stated to be a last resort. This page is meant to serve as a reference for the many penalties that are accessible.

Criminal and offence specific responses

Warning – this will set out the offence believed to have been committed, the corrective action expected to be taken within a set time and what will happen if action is not taken.

Formal caution – can be imposed where a prosecution could be commenced, the offender admits the offence and consents to be cautioned.

Prosecution fixed penalty –  can be imposed for certain offences, if it is not paid a prosecution can follow.

Prosecution – the Agency must be sure there is a realistic prospect of conviction, and it is in the public interest to prosecute.

Civil sanctions

When the Agency decides to impose a civil sanction (other than a stop notice), they will serve you with a notice of intent, give you 28 days to submit written representations, examine any representations, make a final decision, and notify you with brief reasons for the decision.

 Compliance notice – to require the offender to come back into compliance or where advice has been given but not followed.

Restoration notice –  a formal notice requiring the offender to put right any damage caused by an offence. Steps to take will be set out in the notice to rectify the situation within a set time.

Fixed monetary penalty – can be issued where advice has been given and not followed or for minor offences.

Variable monetary penalty – issued for more serious offences where it is not in the public interest to prosecute. This penalty may also be issued in conjunction with a compliance or restoration notice.

Stop notice – requiring an activity to be stopped immediately, it will set out action to be taken and will remain in force until the action is taken.

Enforcement undertaking – a voluntary offer by the offender to put right the effects of the offending behaviour. If accepted the offer becomes a binding agreement. If the offender complies then a prosecution cannot be taken.