The Environment Act 1995 (‘the Act’), as well as bestowing upon enforcement authorities wide ranging powers of investigation, also provides them with powers to deal with environmental emergencies and to issue Restrictions Notices as required.
Obstruction of enforcement authorities in the exercise of these powers can lead to criminal liability and possibly a prison sentence.
John Veale of Kangs Solicitors comments upon these powers.
If made subject to an investigation by the Environment Agency or any other enforcement agency, it is essential that expert legal guidance and representation is sought.
For an initial no obligation discussion, please call our team at any of our offices detailed below:
Powers to Deal With Emergencies | Kangs Environment Team
Section 109 of the Act provides that:
- if an authorised person finds an article or substance on any premises they have power to enter, have reasonable cause to believe there exists a cause of imminent danger of serious pollution of the environment or serious harm to human health,
- they may seize it and cause it to be rendered harmless/destroyed,
- but they must thereafter prepare and sign a written Report giving particulars of the nature of the article or substance and the manner in which it was dealt with.
- A copy of the Report must be given to a responsible person at the premises, or, if a different person, the owner of the article or substance.
Powers to Issue Restriction Notices | Kangs Environment Law Solicitors
Section 109 A of the Act provides that:
- an authorised person may issue a Restriction Notice where there is/or was a regulated or an exempt facility if they are satisfied
- there is a risk of serious pollution to the environment or serious harm to human health which is a result of the treatment, keeping or disposal of waste at the premises,
- the Notice is necessary to prevent the risk from continuing.
- The Restriction Notice is a notice prohibiting access to, and the importation of waste into, the premises or a specified part of the premises,
- but a Restriction Notice does not prohibit access to the premises, or the specified part of the premises, by the occupier or the owner.
- The Restriction Notice takes effect for a period specified in the Notice but not exceeding seventy two hours.
- The appropriate agency may do anything necessary to secure the premises against access in contravention of the Notice.
Powers to Issue Restriction Orders | Kangs Environment Law Team
Section 109D of the Act provides that:
- an application to a Magistrates’ court for a Restriction Order
- must be made by the appropriate agency when it has issued a Restriction Notice.
- The application must be heard by the Magistrates’ court where:
subsection (1)(a) applies, not later than 72 hours after service of the Restriction Notice;
subsection (1)(b) applies, not later than 7 days after the application is made.
- The Court may grant the Restriction Order on largely the same basis as the Restriction Notice and must be satisfied that a person in relation to the treatment, keeping or disposal of waste has contravened section 33(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or section 12(1, 12(1)a of the Environmental Permitting Regulations.
- The Restriction Order may last up to 6 months, be varied, extended, discharged and appealed.
Punishments For Breach | Kangs Regulatory Solicitors
Section 110 of the Act states that it is an offence:
- For a person to intentionally obstruct an authorised person in the exercise or performance of their powers and duties under section 109 of the Act and conviction before a Magistrates’ Court can result in a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum and/or a maximum prison sentence of twelve months and before a Crown Court a maximum prison sentence of two years and/or a fine.
- Without reasonable excuse, to contravene a Restriction Notice conviction before a Magistrates’ Court can result in a maximum level 5 fine and/or a maximum prison sentence of fifty one weeks.
- Without reasonable excuse, to contravene a Restriction Order conviction before a Magistrates’ Court can result in a fine and/or a maximum prison sentence of twelve months and before a Crown Court a maximum prison sentence of two years and/or a fine.
- Without reasonable excuse, to remove a copy of a Restriction Order fixed to the normal means of access to a premises, conviction before a Magistrates’ Court can result in a fine.
How Can We Assist? | Kangs Environment Agency Solicitors
If you as an individual or as a company are faced with the possibility of investigation or prosecution in respect of an environmental issue of any nature, it is essential that you have immediate expert legal assistance.
Obstruction of an authorised person in the exercise of their duty, or contravention of a Restriction Notice or Order can result, as explained above, in imprisonment or a very large fine.
Please do not hesitate to contact our team through any of the following who will be pleased to hear from you: