LONDON – Britain on Wednesday said it would remove the current 250,000-pound ($322,375) limit on fines that can be issued to polluters by environmental regulators and increase the number of offenses that fall under their scope.
Water companies have faced particular scrutiny for polluting rivers, and Thames Water was fined 20 million pounds in 2017 – and 3.3 million pounds last week – for pumping sewage into rivers.
Such fines followed lengthy court proceedings, but the changes would allow the Environment Agency or Natural England to impose enforcement measures more quickly and at a lower cost.
“Polluters must always pay. We are scrapping the cap on civil penalties and significantly broadening their scope to target a much wider range of offenses – from breaches of storm overflow permits to the reckless disposal of hazardous waste,” environment minister Therese Coffey said in a statement.
The environment ministry said enforcement could be across all those who hold environmental permits – including in the energy, water and waste sectors – adding that the most serious cases would still be pursued in the courts.
It said that future fines and penalties would be reinvested in the government’s new Water Restoration Fund, adding that the scrapping of the maximum fine would have to be approved in parliament before coming into force. — Reuters