ARCHIVE: Fairer and better environmental enforcement project background and consultation
The Fairer and Better Environmental Enforcement Project forms part of the wider Government agenda on Better Regulation.
The project is to make improvements to environmental enforcement in England and Wales. These improvements would be part of the transformation of the regulatory landscape envisaged by the Hampton and Macrory reports.
In 2005, the Government fully accepted the recommendations of the Hampton Review comprehensively risk-based regulation. The Macrory report followed in 2006 and looked at how regulatory sanctions should contribute to the Hampton vision.
The Government accepted in full the Macrory report recommendations for proportionate, flexible and meaningful sanctions that would deter the truly criminal operators and encourage compliance generally. Part 3 of the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions (RES) Act 2008 takes forward some of the Macrory recommendations by enabling a range of civil sanctions to be made available to regulators.
- Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions (RES) Act 2008 (BIS website)
The Government's Review of Enforcement in Environmental Regulation highlighted some key underlying obstacles to more proportionate, consistent, transparent and effective environmental enforcement:
These obstacles were:
- The current enforcement system does not have the full range of sanctions needed to change non-compliant behaviour for the better.
- The criminal sanctions being imposed do no t always do what people expect of them: financial gain is not removed and restoration not routinely carried out; communities are not adequately compensated for damage to amenities
- A limited range of enforcement responses means it is not always clear who are the worst offenders. Where sanctions are inadequate responsible businesses are disadvantaged .
- Enforcement is not reliably proportionate - regulators sometimes have to prosecute when an alternative non-criminal sanction, if it was available, could more closely match the nature of the non-compliance .
- Overall, there is no simple, easily understood framework for explaining how enforcement is meant to work; the role of everyone in it, from operators to courts to regulators; or enough data on how enforcement is working.
The Fairer and Better Environmental Enforcement Project has been working with regulators and other interested people and organisations to develop a more transparent, proportionate, consistent and effective environmental enforcement system in England and Wales.
A public consultation took place from 21 July to 14 October 2009 seeking views on Government proposals to introduce the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions (RES) Act civil sanctions for existing environmental offences in England and Wales.
The government presented three options:
Option 1, “Do nothing”. Option 1 was to maintain the then existing system of environmental enforcement as it was without introducing the measures included in options 2 or 3.
Option 2 involved the introduction of RES Act civil sanctions, with no measures to strengthen the role of the criminal courts in proportionate sentencing of the worst cases.
Option 3 involves introducing RES Act civil sanctions, and separate initial proposals to strengthen the role of the criminal courts.
Following careful consideration of the 84 responses to the public consultation, the Government published a response to consultees’ views.
- Government response and summary of replies (PDF 338 KB)
Overall, respondents supported the Government’s proposals for the introduction of civil sanctions and initial proposals to strengthen the powers of criminal courts in sentencing the worst environmental offenders. A further consultation would set outmore detailed proposals for strengthened sentencing powers.
Page last modified: 21 May 2010