Environment Agency civil sanctions raise £200k

25th January 2012


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  • Environment agencies ,
  • Waste

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IEMA

Local environment charities and projects have benefited from more than £200,000 in donations as a result of civil sanctions imposed by the Environment Agency (EA) in 2011.

Leisure firm Fitness First, facilities management company MITIE and biscuit manufacturer Rivington Foods were among 26 businesses that donated cash to make amends for breaching environmental regulations and avoided criminal prosecution under new rules allowing the EA to deal with offences outside of court.

Since 4 January, the EA has been able to take civil sanctions against firms, including ordering firms to comply with legislation, clear up pollution, compensate victims and pay fines, rather than undertaking costly criminal prosecutions.

The agency has revealed that, up until 31 November 2011, it had accepted 26 offers from firms wanting to make amends for offences. These offers, known as “enforcement undertakings”, include proposed actions to comply with legislation, restore any affected environment and, where restoration is not possible, actions that will ensure the equivalent benefit or improvement to the environment.

All bar one of the offers accepted by the agency were in relation to waste offences under the Producer Responsibility Obligations Packaging Waste Regulations 2007.

Rivington Biscuits, the makers of Pink Panther wafers, for example, registered with compliance scheme Biffpak and donated £14,278 to the local Wigan branch of remediation charity Groundwork, while Fitness First registered with the Budgetpack scheme and donated more than £8,600 to Dorset Wildlife Trust.

The largest donation of £25,000 was made by technology distribution company Steljes, and will be spent improving canal towpaths in Surrey.

Ornamental Plants is the only organisation so far to have an enforcement undertaking accepted for a pollution offence after it failed to properly store oil at its site in Preston.

Unlike the firms in breach of the Producer Responsibility Regulations, the horticulture company’s offer focused on actions to remedy the pollution’s impact on the local environment and prevent such incidents in future. It did also make a single £100 donation to the Martin Mere Wildfowl Trust.

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