Government to dump heftier civil penalties on litterbug businesses

The government has announced it will scrap the current £250,000 limit on financial penalties the Environment Agency and Natural England can impose on businesses for littering.

The changes, which have been announced following a government consultation on the issue, will mean that the littering fines can be imposed as a civil sanction, helping to avoid the lengthy processes of criminal proceedings.

The government said this will help to strengthen littering enforcement across sectors including energy and water companies to waste incinerators.

“Polluters must always pay. We are scrapping the cap on civil penalties and significantly broadening their scope to target a much wider range of offences – from breaches of storm overflow permits to the reckless disposal of hazardous waste,” said environment minister Thérèse Coffey.

“It builds on action being taken right across government to stand up for our environment – tackling pollution, protecting delicate ecosystems and enhancing nature.”

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Minister for environmental quality and resilience Rebecca Pow said: “By lifting the cap on these sanctions, we are simultaneously toughening our enforcement tools and expanding where regulators can use them. This will deliver a proportionate punishment for operators that breach their permits and harm our rivers, seas and precious habitats.”

“This was one of the measures set out in our Plan for Water earlier this year. I am proud to say this government has acted swiftly so that this will now be enshrined in law, further strengthening the power of regulators to hold polluters to account.”

The Environment Agency chair Alan Lovell said the new powers would be an important deterrent to littering and would allow the agency to “deliver penalties that are quicker and easier to enforce, even though the most serious cases will continue to go to court”.

Nature and the environmentNews

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