Solicitor Kayleigh Chapman, in our leading Planning & Environmental law team, discusses the team's significant experience in defending environmental prosecutions, including waste prosecutions.
We recently advised on a matter where the Environment Agency had, after investigations, decided to issue prosecution proceedings for various offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010. These included carrying out a waste operation without being authorised by an environmental permit (First Charge) and failing to comply with requirements of an Environmental Enforcement Notice (Second and Third Charges).
If found guilty the defendant faced the possibility of imprisonment (not exceeding 12 months per offence) and/or a fine up to £90,000 (£30,000 per offence). In addition, the Environment Agency was seeking a disqualification from directorship. The latter would prevent the defendant from being a director of his other companies, which was naturally of particular concern.
The defendant had initially attempted to represent himself during the prosecution proceedings. However owing to the complicated legal nature of the matter, he was understandably struggling with the process and sought legal advice.
Against a stringent timescale, and despite there being a considerable volume of documentation, we were successful in preparing a strategy which resulted in the prosecution withdrawing the First Charge. In respect of the other two charges, whilst there was no defence available, we successfully mitigated the matter so that the sentence was only £6,000.00 per offence and the defendant avoided a disqualification order. It is clear that even if you propose to plead guilty seeking legal advice at the earliest opportunity is worthwhile. A solicitor can advise you on any potential defences and on possible mitigation to lessen any penalty/sentence. There is value to be added as evidenced by the low fine that was received by the Defendant in the above matter. We would encourage you to contact a solicitor if you have received a summons.
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This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.