Environment Agency Stop Notices | Civil Powers
A ‘Stop notice’ is one which may be issued with the intent of prohibiting the carrying out of illegal activities on land.
The Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 provides the civil powers and sanctions used by various regulatory bodies, including the Environment Agency, The Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010 (‘the Order’).
John Veale of Kangs Solicitors considers ‘Stop notices’ which feature at Schedule 3 of the Order.
If you are, or anticipate becoming, the subject of 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:
The Relevant Law | Kangs Offences Against the Environment Defence Solicitors
Schedule 3 of the Order states:
1.- (1) The regulator may serve a stop notice on any person in accordance with this Schedule in relation to an offence under a provision specified in Schedule 5 if the table in that Schedule indicates that such notice is possible for that offence.
(2) A “stop notice” is a notice prohibiting a person from carrying on an activity specified in the notice until the person has taken the steps specified in the notice.
(3) A stop notice may only be served in a case falling within sub-paragraph (4) or (5).
(4) A case falling within this sub-paragraph is a case where –
(a) the person is carrying on the activity,
(b) the regulator reasonably believes that the activity as carried on by that person is causing, or presents a significant risk of causing, serious harm to any of the matters referred to in sub-paragraph (6), and
(c) the regulator reasonably believes that the activity as carried on by that person involves or is likely to involve the commission of an offence under a provision specified in Schedule 5 by that person.
(5) A case falling within this sub-paragraph is a case where the regulator reasonably believes that—
(a) the person is likely to carry on the activity,
(b) the activity as likely to be carried on by that person will cause, or will present a significant risk of causing, serious harm to any of the matters referred to in sub-paragraph (6), and
(c) the activity as likely to be carried on by that person will involve or will be likely to involve the commission of an offence under a provision specified in Schedule 5 by that person.
(6) The matters referred to in sub-paragraphs (4)(b) and (5)(b) are—
(a) human health,
(b) the environment (including the health of animals and plants).
(7) The steps referred to in sub-paragraph (2) must be steps to remove or reduce the harm or risk of harm referred to in sub-paragraph (4)(b) or (5)(b).
Contents of a stop notice
- A stop notice must include information as to—
(a) the grounds for serving the stop notice;
(b) the steps the person must take to comply with the stop notice;
(c) rights of appeal; and
(d) the consequences of non-compliance.’
Appeals Against Stop Notices | Kangs Appeals Solicitors
The person on whom a stop notice is served may appeal against the decision to serve on the grounds that:
- the decision to issue was based on an error of fact, was wrong in law, was unreasonable or the steps specified in the notice were unreasonable,
- an offence has not been committed and would not have been committed had the stop notice not been served,
- by reason of any defence, they would not have been liable to be convicted of the offence had the stop notice not been served or
- any other relevant reason.
Completion Certificates | Kangs Regulatory Solicitors
If, after a stop notice has been served, the Environment Agency is satisfied that the person on whom it was served has taken the steps specified in the notice, it must issue a Completion Certificate, at which point the notice ceases to have an effect.
The person on whom the notice is served may, at any time, apply for a Completion Certificate and the Environment Agency has fourteen days from the date of application to make a decision.
A person may appeal against a decision not to issue a Completion Certificate and may be entitled to compensation from the Environment Agency for loss suffered as a result of the service of the stop notice or the refusal of a Completion Certificate.
If the stop notice is subsequently withdrawn, or amended, because the decision to serve it was unreasonable, the steps specified in it are deemed to have been unreasonable.
Appeals can also be made to the Tribunal if the Environment Agency unreasonably refuses compensation or offers an amount that is not in keeping with the facts of the case.
Penalties For Non-Compliance | Kangs Regulatory Offences Lawyers
Non-compliance with a stop notice within the specified time is an ‘either way’ offence meaning that it can be tried before either a Magistrates’ Court or a Crown Court.
In a Magistrates’ Court, conviction will result in an unlimited fine and/or a maximum twelve-months prison sentence.
Upon conviction, the Crown Court may impose a fine and/or a maximum prison sentence of two years.
How Can We Assist? | Kangs Environment Agency Solicitors
If, as an individual or a company, you are made subject to a stop notice from the Environment Agency, or other regulatory body, you should seek immediate expert legal assistance.
A stop notice will, in effect, bring your business to a halt and non-compliance could result in criminal conviction.
Accordingly, given the potentially serious consequences of failing to comply with the requirements of a stop notice, it is essential that immediate legal guidance is sought. It is not unusual for stop notices to be served unreasonably and the Team at Kangs Solicitors is well accustomed to supporting clients in opposing the issue of such a notice.
We provide initial no obligation discussion at our three offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Alternatively, discussions can be held virtually through live conferencing or telephone.