Policy paper

Environment Agency enforcement and sanctions policy

How the Environment Agency uses its enforcement and sanctioning powers to secure compliance with laws that protect the environment.

Applies to England



How the Environment Agency conducts enforcement activity for environmental offences and breaches.

Includes how we:

  • make enforcement and sanctioning decisions including the decision to prosecute
  • apply Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 civil sanctions and when we may accept enforcement undertakings
  • apply climate change civil penalties
  • enforce the Control of Mercury (Enforcement) Regulations 2017

See our Offence Response Options documents which set out the options available to every offence we regulate.

Published 11 April 2018
Last updated 17 March 2022 + show all updates
  1. We have updated Annex 2 of our Enforcement and Sanctions Policy. This covers the Environment Agency’s approach to applying civil penalties for climate change schemes. We have made changes to Section D: Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). These changes follow a consultation we carried out from 29 September to 10 November 2021.

  2. We've published new offence response options documents. We've added the links to the new documents.

  3. Amendments to Environmental Protection Act 1990.

  4. We updated Enforcement and Sanctions: Offence Response Options (ORO)

  5. First published.