21 December 2011
From 3 January 2012, Natural England will have more flexible powers to help resolve cases where breaches of environmental regulations have resulted in harm to wildlife and the natural environment.
Natural England already has enforcement responsibilities in areas including Sites of Special Scientific Interest, heather and grass burning, breaches of certain wildlife licences, breaches of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations and damage caused by injurious weeds.
Until recently, the only options available to tackle breaches in these areas were either to issue warning letters or to proceed to full criminal prosecution. From 3 January the new “civil sanctions” will enable Natural England to stop illegal activities, order the restoration of environmental damage and accept voluntary enforcement undertakings where legislation has been breached.
Ministerial approval was given following an eight-week public consultation, which indicated strong public support for the new sanctions. The full package of information produced as part of the consultation is now available on our website.
Janette Ward, Natural England’s Director of Regulation said: “We value the response we have received in the consultation. Our new powers give a welcome degree of flexibility – helping to ensure that we can fine-tune the actions needed to protect our natural environment, rectify damage and deter those minded to harm our wildlife - without imposing unnecessary penalties and costs. Our aim is to help people and businesses to comply with the laws protecting our wildlife and natural environment - enforcement action is a last resort.”
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The consultation package can be found on our website at: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/regulation/enforcement/default.aspx
The eight-week consultation ran from 8 August to 30 September 2011.
Natural England enforces laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment including:
The Environmental Damage Regulations
Sites of Special Scientific Interest
Burning of heathland and grassland
Agricultural work which affects uncultivated land and semi-natural areas
Licences for work that may affect protected species
Complaints relating to injurious weeds
Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.
We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.
We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Marine Conservation Zones, and advising widely on their conservation.
We run Environmental Stewardship and other green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.
We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.
- We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.
For further information (media enquiries only) please contact Melissa Gill on 0300 060 2983. Out of hours, please call the duty press officer on 07970 098005.