Natural England has launched an eight-week public consultation on a new enforcement regime to protect wildlife and the natural environment, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The new regime would also cover breaches of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations.
Until recently, the only options available to tackle most breaches of regulations were either to issue warning letters and cautions or to proceed to full criminal prosecution.
That has changed in the wake of the decision by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to enable Natural England to impose “civil sanctions”.
Natural England can now stop illegal activities, order the restoration of environmental damage and accept voluntary enforcement undertakings where legislation has been breached.
However, before the new sanctions can be used, Natural England is consulting on the details of the new regime.
Janette Ward, Natural England’s director of regulation said: “The new powers give a welcome degree of flexibility, and will help ensure that we can fine-tune the actions needed to protect the environment without imposing unnecessary costs on those we regulate, the vast majority of whom seek to a wide-ranging consultation to take account of as wide a range of views as possible.”
11 August 2008