enforcement undertakings

The growth in the level of undertakings throughout 2018 tallies with a general increase in environmental enforcement.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

The Environment Agency has released data indicating that enforcement undertakings in England and Wales reached more than £2.2 million in 2018 — the highest-ever levels within a single year. The amounts raised under these undertakings were given to projects and charities that will benefit the environment and assist in cleaning up parks, rivers, and beaches. In addition, the enforcement undertakings include voluntarily agreed binding commitments to carry out remediation and/or other corrective action.

Enforcement undertakings are voluntary, legally binding agreements that regulators can use if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence has been committed. These undertakings are one of the enforcement tools available to the Environment Agency, Natural England, and Natural Resources Wales in relation to potential environmental offences. Such offences include those relating to breaches of environmental permitting regulations, breaches under producer packaging requirements, and breaches of regulations concerning the discharge of wastewater.