Enforcement laws: advice on protecting the natural environment in England
Get advice from Natural England to help you comply with laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment.
Natural England is responsible for enforcing laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment. Enforcement is used as a last resort but it is sometimes necessary to make sure that the natural environment is protected. Natural England aims to use enforcement in a consistent and proportionate manner to target illegal activities that have the greatest impact on wildlife, geology and landscapes.
Natural England’s compliance and enforcement position
The compliance and enforcement position (PDF, 95.1KB, 4 pages) explains how Natural England help people comply with the laws we are responsible for enforcing. It also outlines the general principles followed when Natural England need to take enforcement action.
The following information gives further details on the processes involved in taking enforcement action:
enforcement guidance (PDF, 365KB, 16 pages)
annex 1: offence explanation (PDF, 228KB, 19 pages)
annexes 2 to 4: sanction explanation (PDF, 385KB, 48 pages)
annex 5: summary table (PDF, 19.7KB, 3 pages)
annex 6: example incidents (PDF, 76.4KB, 4 pages)
Natural England’s enforcement responsibilities
Natural England is responsible for the following:
- sites of special scientific interest
- environmental damage regulations
- heather and grass burning
- agricultural work that affects uncultivated land or semi-natural areas
- breaches of wildlife licences and notices
- pesticide poisoning to animals
- complaints relating to weeds
Report a suspected offence
Animal poisoning or other abuse of pesticides
Report a suspected animal poisoning or other abuse of pesticides by calling the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme on 0800 321 600.
Breach of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations
Report a suspected breach of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations by calling the EIA helpline on 0800 028 2140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breach of a species licence issued by Natural England
Report a suspected breach of a species licence that Natural England has issued by email to email@example.com. Put the name of the county that the incident occurred in at the start of the subject line to make sure that your report is dealt with in a timely way.
Breaches of general licences issued by Natural England are enforced by the police. These, and any other offences against protected species, should be reported to your local police service via 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
If the incident is on-going, report it to the police on 999. In all cases, you should ask if the case can be referred to a police wildlife crime officer (PWCO) for investigation. You might want to ask for a police incident number in order to follow up on your report.
Report any other incidents to the Natural England enquiries team by calling 0300 060 3900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The primary purpose of the enforcement undertaking is to allow the offender to restore and remedy any environmental damage they have caused. Use this offer form (MS Word Document, 41.6KB) to notify Natural England whether you are being:
- proactive and you are self-reporting a suspected offence
- reactive to an offence where you have been notified that Natural England intend taking criminal or civil action against you for this alleged offence
Return your offer to:
Natural England annual reports of enforcement activity:
Annual report 2015 to 2016 (PDF, 399KB, 12 pages)
Annual report 2014 to 2015 (PDF, 1000KB, 12 pages)
Annual report 2013 to 2014 (PDF, 408KB, 9 pages)
Annual report 2012 to 2013 (PDF, 362KB, 8 pages)
See the prosecutions and civil sanctions (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 73KB) brought by Natural England.
Published: 20 October 2013
Updated: 18 November 2016
- Annual report of Natural England enforcement activity 2015 to 2016 published.
- Annual report 2014 to 2015 published.
- Added updated version of the public register of civil sanctions and prosecutions.
- Updated version of register of civil sanctions and prosecutions
- Added updated version of register of civil sanctions and prosecutions
- First published.