Closed consultation

Environmental offences guideline for sentencing

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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The aim of the guideline is to address the need for improved guidance and remove inconsistencies in sentencing, including the levels of fines being given.

This consultation ran from

Consultation description

The Sentencing Council is seeking views on:

  • the principal factors that make an environmental offence more or less serious
  • the additional factors that should influence the sentence
  • the sentences that should be given for environmental offences
  • anything else that you think should be considered

The Council is not consulting on the legislation; this is a matter for Parliament and outside the scope of this exercise.

This consultation is aimed at:

Businesses Citizens Media
Claims management services Coroners Voluntary organisations
Local authorities Youth workers Coroners
Litigants Young people Charities
Landlords Voluntary organisations Bailiffs and Enforcement officers
Government departments Legal professionals Judiciary
Immigration removal centre staff Young offender institute staff Staff at prisons with mother and baby units
Police Prosecutors Offenders
Victims Youth Offending Team workers Mental health professionals
Health professionals Citizens Voluntary organisations
Charities Government departments Legal professionals
Judiciary Police and law enforcement professionals  


The Sentencing Council received a number of requests to produce a guideline for fly-tipping and other environmental offences from a range of interested parties, including members of the National Fly-tipping Prevention Group and the Environment Agency. Concerns were that the levels of fines for environmental offences are not high enough and so neither reflect the seriousness of the offences nor deter offenders. Concerns were also raised about inconsistency in fine levels.

Sentencing data was provided by local authorities, the Environment Agency, the Ministry of Justice and the Council’s own research. Further research with a sample of magistrates and judges also indicated a lack of familiarity with sentencing these types of offences, in assessing their seriousness and setting fines, particularly for corporate offenders.

The guideline aims to apply a combination of factors in a consistent way, as well as dealing with a wide variability of culpability and harm. This is particularly difficult when sentencing such a wide range of offenders, ranging from individuals, very small commercial operations or publicly-funded bodies, to large organisations, or multinational companies with multi-million pound assets.


Environmental Offences Guideline Consultation

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Published 14 March 2013