19th December 2013
Environment agency prosecutions have risen sharply in the past few years, with three happening in the past week alone; the environment agency are certainly doing more to curb the breaking of the law than the police are today, at least in terms of environmental matters. The Environment Agency is a UK government agency with the power to prosecute companies and individuals for breaking UK environmental law. Whether this sudden rise in prosecutions signifies the changing attitude of the nation towards the environment or we’re simply seeing the Environment Agency coming down hard on illegal activities, we don’t know.
We have recently dealt with a number of Regulatory breaches including not exercising duty of care when it comes to descriptions on Waste Transfer Notices (WTN) and the correct application of European Waste Codes (EWC). Often operators do not realise how far their duty of care extends when dealing with the handling, deposit, transport and receiving of waste. We have had incidents of illegal operators using forged permits and duping bona fide operators, but, by not checking the authenticity of the carriers license and / or permit holders those legitimate businesses could fall foul of the criminal law. Tax changes and the treatment of waste fines has caused controversy and has tempted many in the industry to cut corners! Our concern is that the individuals and companies responsible may not truly understand the very real and long-term consequences of their actions. Proper internal review of procedures is essential and a far cheaper option than Fines from the Crown Court and proceedings under POCA!
Prosecuting companies for activities which go against environmental law is one of the most effective ways to get people’s attention, and unfortunately that is likely what the environmental agency is trying to do. Companies and individuals who operate without the correct level of care are being made into examples and sometimes even prosecuted. Being prosecuted for environmental offences can have serious effects on your business and harm your company’s reputation for years to come.
At O’Garra’s Solicitors, we can help you to avoid any unnecessary problems with the Environment Agency by visiting your site, identifying potential problems, and testing your business’s compliance with environmental law. In the case that the Environment Agency finds something amiss with your operations, we can even negotiate with them to help you avoid an unwanted court case. Environmental regulations are not the most transparent of regulations, but we’re experts in environmental law and we’re here to help you understand the law better, so that you can more easily comply with it.