Environmental offences guideline

Closed 6 Jun 2013

Opened 14 Mar 2013



The aim of the guideline is to address the need for improved guidance in this area and remove inconsistencies in sentencing, including the levels of fines being given.
The Council is seeking views on:
  • the principal factors that make an environmental offence more or less serious;
  • the additional factors that should influence the sentence;
  • the sentences that should be given for environmental offences; and
  • anything else that you think should be considered.
The Council is not consulting on the legislation; this is a matter for Parliament and outside the scope of this exercise.
The Sentencing Council received a number of requests to produce a guideline for fly-tipping and other environmental offences from a range of interested parties, including members of the National Fly-tipping Prevention Group and the Environment Agency. Concerns were that the levels of fines for environmental offences are not high enough and so neither reflect the seriousness of the offences nor deter offenders. Concerns were also raised about inconsistency in fine levels.
Sentencing data was provided by local authorities, the Environment Agency, the Ministry of Justice and the Council’s own research. Further research with a sample of magistrates and judges also indicated a lack of familiarity with sentencing these types of offences, in assessing their seriousness and setting fines, particularly for corporate offenders.
The guideline aims to apply a combination of factors in a consistent way, as well as dealing with a wide variability of culpability and harm. This is particularly difficult when sentencing such a wide range of offenders, ranging from individuals, very small commercial operations or publicly-funded bodies, to large organisations, or multinational companies with multi-million pound assets.


  • Businesses
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Local authorities
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Police
  • Prosecutors


  • Environment
  • Criminal justice