Who is liable to pay for environmental damage suffered in the UK?

The Environmental Damage Regulations

The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009 came into force on the 1 March 2009 to implement the provisions of the European Commission’s Environmental Liability Directive into the laws of England and Wales.

What is the aim of the Environmental Damage regulations?

The aim of the Environmental Damage Regulations is to prevent and remedy damage to land, water and biodiversity. They reinforce the “polluter pays” principle by making businesses financially liable for threats or damage or actual damage caused.

Environmental Damage

What is meant by the term environmental damage?

The term environmental damage is defined by the regulations as damage to:

  • Protected species or natural habitats or a site of special scientific interest

  • Surface water or ground water

  • Land

To which land do the regulations apply to?

The Regulations apply on land in England and Wales, on the seabed around the UK up to the limits set out by the Continental Shelf Act 1964, and to waters in the Renewable Energy Zone which extends approximately 200 miles out to sea.

Who is affected by the Environmental Damage Regulations?

The following individuals are affected by and should understand the regulations fully:

  • Private businesses

  • Individuals involved in farming

  • Individuals involved in manufacturing

  • Individuals involved in construction and demolition

  • Individuals involved in waste management

  • Individuals involved in the forestry industry

  • Charitable and voluntary organisations

  • Public sector bodies such as schools, hospitals and government departments or agencies

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For more information on:

  • The Polluter Pays Principle
  • Incentive
  • According to the Regulations what should the above bodies do?
  • What happens if the Environment Agency has to remedy the damage themselves?
  • Who enforces the Environmental Damage Regulations?