Unlimited fines introduced for polluting environment

Posted at December 12, 2023 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on Unlimited fines introduced for polluting environment

Companies that pollute the environment can now be hit with unlimited financial penalties by the Environment Agency.

The previous £250,000 cap on Variable Monetary Penalties has been scrapped and the range of offences covered has been expanded.

That includes breach of permit conditions from sites that discharge into rivers and seas, for example from sewage treatment works and permitted storm overflows and illegal discharges to water where there is no permit, such as in the event of agricultural pollution from slurry stores.

In addition, illegal waste offences such as from illegal scrapyards or unpermitted waste management sites and permit breaches from manufacturing industries and power stations that contribute to air pollution can also be punished.

The new changes affect all companies that have environmental permits, including water and waste companies as well as the agricultural sector and process industries.

The funds raised from water company penalties will be reinvested in a new Water Restoration Fund, designed to provide direct investment for projects that work to improve the nation’s rivers, lakes and streams at a local level.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Polluters should be in no doubt that if they harm our precious habitats and waterways they will pay.

“By lifting the cap on these sanctions, we are simultaneously toughening our enforcement tools and expanding where regulators can use them. These changes will deliver a proportionate punishment for operators that breach their permits and cause pollution.

“Through the launch of the Water Restoration Fund, the money raised from penalties imposed on water companies will go towards restoring and protecting our waters. This is part of the increased investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement we are delivering through our Plan for Water.”

Ofwat has also been given increased powers to ensure water company dividends are linked to environmental performance while the regulator has also tightened the rules on bonus payments.

For 2022-23, no water company bosses in England are paying a CEO bonus out of customer money.

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