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Natural England invites views on changes to environmental enforcement rules
Natural England yesterday, 8 August, launched an eight-week public consultation to seek views on how to help people to comply with laws protecting wildlife and the natural environment, and on how these laws should be enforced if regulations are broken.
Natural England has enforcement responsibilities in a number of 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 many breaches of the regulations in these areas were either to issue warning letters and cautions or to proceed to full criminal prosecution. Following the decision by Defra to enable Natural England to impose “civil sanctions”, Natural England can now stop illegal activities, order the restoration of environmental damage and accept voluntary enforcement undertakings where legislation has been breached.
Before the new sanctions can be used, Natural England is undertaking an eight-week consultation running from 8 August to 30 September 2011 and the consultation package can be found on our website.
Janette Ward, Natural England’s Director of Regulation said: “In the current economic climate it is particularly important that we offer people and small businesses help and support to comply with the laws which we are responsible for enforcing. We value public opinion and feedback, and the responses to this consultation will help us to ensure that we are achieving this.
“The new powers give a welcome degree of flexibility, and will help ensure that we can fine-tune the actions needed to protect the environment without imposing unnecessary costs on those we regulate, the vast majority of whom seek to a wide-ranging consultation to take account of as wide a range of views as possible.”
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Notes to Editors:
About the consultation
The consultation package can be found on our website.
The eight-week consultation runs from 8 August to 30 September 2011.
Natural England enforces laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment including:
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.
About Natural England
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 contact: Melissa Gill on 0300 060 2983 / email@example.com or out of hours 07970 098005.