Environment Agency first to use civil sanctions

21st July 2011


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A London-based engineering company is to pay more than £21,000 towards environment improvement projects, in the first case of a UK regulator using civil sanctions rather than a criminal prosecution to punish regulatory breaches.

The Environment Agency announced today (21 July) that it has accepted an offer of £21,000 to fund local environment projects from Invensys after the firm reported its breaches of the Packaging Waste Regulations.

The new civil powers, introduced through the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008, have been available to the agency since 4 January and allow it to take action against less serious regulatory breaches without the expense of criminal proceedings.

The six civil sanctions are intended to halt and repair damage caused by environmental breaches rather than imposing large punitive fines and free regulators’ resources to pursue more serious offences.

“Civil sanctions allow us to secure regulatory compliance from organisations, eliminate any financial gain from non-compliance and get them to react responsibly to the offending,” explained the Environment Agency’s director of environment and business Ed Mitchell.

“Organisations can make reparations that focus on environmental improvements and providing benefits for the local people affected by the offences.”

The agency can impose sanctions or accept offers like that from Invensys, which then become legally binding voluntary agreements on the duty holders.

Since January, the Environment Agency has received 30 offers under the sanction from firms looking to take responsibility for their regulatory breaches. Offers include setting up a local community recycling awareness scheme, donations to a environmental charities and funding for a school environmental project.

Invensys’ offer is the first of its kind to be accepted and was bolstered by evidence of improvements ensuring the firm is now fully compliant to the Regulations.

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