DEFRA has commissioned returns from English local authorities on fixed penalty notices issued in 2008-09 for a range of environmental offences, including those relating to waste receptacles. Returns are still outstanding from many local authorities and these are being pursued. Results will be published on the DEFRA website in December.
The present fairer and better environmental enforcement proposals and consultation do not extend to local authorities, who are responsible for household waste matters. Any proposals to give local authorities powers to use the civil sanctions enabled by the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 would be subject to a further public consultation and separate secondary legislation, which would be debated in Parliament.
The present proposals would give national environmental regulators an alternative to prosecution in cases when enforcement is necessary and proportionate. The proposals would allow Environment Agency, Natural England and Countryside Council for Wales to take businesses and others with a good general approach to regulation out of the criminal courts when enforcement action was needed. However, regulatory advice and guidance would remain the cornerstone of a well graduated and fair enforcement system. The worst cases of non-compliance would continue to be prosecuted. The proposed changes are designed to strengthen incentives to comply and to promote co-operation between regulator and regulated.