“Green” issues are becoming more and more significant in our society and the protection of our environment of greater concern.
Environmental Protection legislation creates numerous criminal offences ranging from polluting rivers to being responsible for litter with potentially very high fines imposed upon those successfully prosecuted.
The same legislation applies equally to large companies, small and medium sized enterprises and individuals whether it be serious contamination, waste having escaped having not being properly contained or litter having been dropped; offences may occur even if it is a customer who, for example, drops wrappers of products from a fast food business – the business itself may still be liable!
Environmental Protection Officers have a wide range of powers they can utilise against businesses alleged to be offending ranging from Formal Notices (for such matters as litter control or containment of waste) to Fixed Penalties to Prosecution.
Early advice is essential as although a Formal Notice or Fixed Penalty would not necessarily appear to be a problem it starts to form an offending history which makes it far more likely that a prosecution will be commenced should there be future allegations. Often Formal Notices are unjustified, unreasonable or unworkable and should be appealed – take advice as soon as they are received as usually you would only have 21 days to appeal.
We have successfully appealed many, many Notices in the last twenty years and persuaded Local Authorities to withdraw even more thereby avoiding court altogether.
For serious allegations a formal interview is likely to be requested – you should have advice and be represented at that interview; it is your opportunity to demonstrate you have complied with a duty of care and done everything that could be reasonably expected in all the circumstances. If you can you will hopefully avoid a prosecution which may be potentially costly – financially and to your good name.
If you receive a summons to appear before court take expert advice before your first court appearance – advice as to what the allegations are really saying, whether you should plead guilty or not guilty or as to the potential of seeking to persuade the prosecution to withdraw the case, reduce the number of charges or seriousness of the charges.
We will be happy to discuss your options with you, advise, and if you wish represent you.
Contact us today to discuss any environmental protection issues, on