Earlier this year the Sentencing Council published a definitive guideline for Judges and Magistrates when sentencing people who commit environmental offences.

The Sentencing Council have separated the publication into a guideline for organisations and a guideline for individuals. The guideline provides for fly tipping (both for householders or a company typing large volumes of waste), waste handling, restrictions on the use of sewers and abatement orders.

The guidelines, which come into effect on the 1st July 2014, will apply to offenders aged over 18 years and to offences sentenced on or after that date, regardless of the date of the offence.

Whilst a custodial sentence is available to the Court for the more serious offences; for example unauthorised or harmful depositing, treatment or disposal of waste which on indictment could result in a custodial sentence of up to five years; fines remain the more common punishment. The press release for the new guidelines accounts for the favourable form of punishment being due to the fact that “the offences are motivated by making a profit or saving money”.

With a step by step process to assessing the case and determining the level of culpability and harm, it is envisaged that the new guidelines will provide uniformity to the sentencing of these cases whilst ensuring that the level of punishment is proportionate to the size and resources of the organisation being prosecuted. Changes have been made to the penalty levels.

At Farleys we have a team of environmental law solicitors who specialise in assisting clients accused of environmental offences. Our lawyers can provide advice and representation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on all areas of crime.

If you have been accused of involvement in relation to an environmental law offence it is vital that you speak to a criminal defence solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Early advice is often crucial. For 24 hour advice via our emergency crime line, call 01254 606050.