Other environmental offences
Guideline users should be aware that the Equal Treatment Bench Book covers important aspects of fair treatment and disparity of outcomes for different groups in the criminal justice system. It provides guidance which sentencers are encouraged to take into account wherever applicable, to ensure that there is fairness for all involved in court proceedings.
In accordance with section 120 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, the Sentencing Council issues this definitive guideline. It applies to all individual offenders aged 18 and older and organisations that are sentenced on or after 1 July 2014, regardless of the date of the offence.*
Section 59(1) of the Sentencing Code provides that:
“Every court –
- must, in sentencing an offender, follow any sentencing guideline which is relevant to the offender’s case, and
- must, in exercising any other function relating to the sentencing of offenders, follow any sentencing guidelines which are relevant to the exercise of the function,
unless the court is satisfied that it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so.”
This guideline applies only to individual offenders aged 18 and older or organisations. General principles to be considered in the sentencing of youths are in the Sentencing Guidelines Council’s definitive guideline, Sentencing children and young people – overarching principles.
Structure, ranges and starting points
For the purposes of section 60 of the Sentencing Code, the guideline specifies offence ranges – the range of sentences appropriate for each type of offence. Within each offence, the Council has specified a number of categories which reflect varying degrees of seriousness. The offence range is split into category ranges – sentences appropriate for each level of seriousness. The Council has also identified a starting point within each category.
Starting points define the position within a category range from which to start calculating the provisional sentence. The court should consider further features of the offence or the offender that warrant adjustment of the sentence within the range, including the aggravating and mitigating factors set out at step four. In this guideline, if the proposed sentence is a fine, having identified a provisional sentence within the range at step four the court is required to consider a further set of factors that may require a final adjustment to the sentence. Starting points and ranges apply to all offenders, whether they have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trial. Credit for a guilty plea is taken into consideration only after the appropriate sentence has been identified.**
*The maximum sentence that applies to an offence is the maximum that applied at the date of the offence.
** In the guideline for organisations, guilty pleas are considered at step nine; in the guideline for individuals, guilty pleas are considered at step eight
In addition to the offences for which there are detailed guidelines under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (section 33) and the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 and 2016 (regulations 12 and 38 (1), (2) and (3)),
- Unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal etc of waste (individuals) and Illegal discharges to air, land and water (individuals);
- Unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal etc of waste (organisations) and Illegal discharges to air, land and water (organisations)
there are other relevant and analogous environmental offences. The court should refer to the sentencing approach in steps one to three and five and six of the guidelines, adjusting the starting points and ranges bearing in mind the statutory maxima for those offences.
An indicative list of such offences is set out below.
|Offence||Mode of trial||Statutory maxima|
|Section 1 Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989 – transporting controlled waste without registering||Triable summarily only||Unlimited fine|
|Section 34 Environmental Protection Act 1990 – breach of duty of care||Triable either way||When tried on indictment: unlimited fine
When tried summarily: unlimited fine
|Section 80 Environmental Protection Act 1990 – breach of an abatement notice||Triable summarily only||Where the offence is committed on industrial, trade or business premises: unlimited fine
Where the offence is committed on non-industrial etc premises: unlimited fine with a further fine of an amount equal to one-tenth of that level for each day on which the offence continues after the conviction
|Section 111 Water Industry Act 1991 – restrictions on use of public sewers||Triable either way||When tried on indictment: imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine or both
When tried summarily: a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum and a further fine not exceeding £50 for each day on which the offence continues after conviction
|Offences under the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007||Triable either way||When tried on indictment: a fine or two years imprisonment or both
When tried summarily: a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or three months’ imprisonment or both