New Environmental Damage Regulations in Force


The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009, which transpose the provisions of the EU Environmental Liability Directive into law in England and Wales, came into force on 1 March 2009.
The Regulations supplement existing environmental protection legislation and impose obligations on operators of commercial activities which cause or threaten to cause environmental damage.
The environmental damage covered by the Regulations is defined as:
  • damage to protected species and natural habitats or in a site of special scientific interest;
  • damage to surface water or ground water; and
  • land damage.
The Regulations seek to ensure that action is taken to put damage right and are based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, requiring those responsible to meet the cost of preventive and remedial measures. When there is an imminent threat of environmental damage or actual environmental damage, operators are required to take immediate steps to prevent damage or further damage and to notify the enforcing authority. Where necessary, remedial action can be required by the enforcing authority.
The Regulations can be found at
Failing to make the necessary notifications is a criminal offence, the penalties for which are a fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to 3 months’ imprisonment, if prosecuted in the Magistrates Court, or an unlimited fine and up to 2 years’ imprisonment if prosecuted in the Crown Court.
Partner Note
The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009 can be found at 

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