The legislation in this area is fast moving. Corporate and individual clients need to be aware of their responsibilities and duties. The Environment Agency has a wide array of powers from issuing enforcement and works notices, suspending or revoking environmental permits to undertaking remedial works and recovering the costs of such work from the company or individual responsible. In addition, if the matter results in the Environment Agency bringing a prosecution, the Court has the power to impose not only custodial sentences for this type of offence but also levy substantial financial penalties against the company and/or the individual.
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We have acted in numerous Environment Agency investigations and our experience shows that it is important to meet at an early stage to discuss all the potential options and then formulate a defence strategy that will serve the client well throughout the investigation stage and any court proceedings that may follow in due course. At Kangs we can assist clients in defending allegations such as:
- Breaches of environmental permits, exemptions, registrations & licences
- Water pollution
- Land contamination
- Unlawful disposal/dumping of hazardous substances (asbestos, harmful chemicals, radioactive material)
- Fly tipping
We have particular experience of dealing with cases involving the waste disposal industry and instances of alleged breaches of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 (i.e. breaches of the terms of the Environmental Permits). The terms of the Environmental Permit can be detailed and need to be fully understood properly before it can be assessed as to whether there has been any breach at all. On occasions we may be able to demonstrate to the Environment Agency at an early stage in the investigation (through expert evidence or otherwise) that the terms of the Environmental Permit have not been breached, thereby resulting in an early resolution to matters. This is a complex area of law and there are many factors that need to be considered when formulating a defence strategy. Below are some initial matters for consideration with more detailed matters to be followed up depending on the individual facts of each case:
- What is the legal definition of waste?
- Who is the onus on to prove that the substance is actually waste or not?
- Can the waste operator apply for an Exemption from the Permitting Regime?
At Kangs we can assist with such details and ensure that the appropriate defence strategy is adopted in each case. We will provide proactive advice and assistance to include representation at any interview under caution with the Environment Agency and representation at any subsequent court proceedings.