Enforcement Undertakings

An Enforcement Undertaking is one of several regulatory options available to the Environment Agency when they are considering action against a polluter.

Once agreed, it requires the polluter to admit their offence and to pay an agreed (with the EA) sum to an appropriate charity - which must then spend it on environmental improvements.

We do not believe this is a route with fewer consequences for polluters than paying a fine for a pollution offence. Just like a fine, the offender has to publically admit their guilt and the size of the sum paid to the charity is intended to be of the same magnitude as a fine imposed by the courts. More importantly, any fines imposed by a court go straight to the government's general funds and will not be spent in a way that directly benefits the environment. Enforcement Undertakings offer a way to improve the watercourses affected by pollution. Enforcement Undertakings are in addition to any costs that polluters are compelled to pay to rectify the harm caused by their pollution.

Our Trust has decided that we will be prepared to work with polluters should they wish to offer an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency. Our catchment has benefited from several Enforcement Undertakings in recent years, which are currently funding river restoration projects run by the Aire Rivers Trust.

You can read the guidelines used by the Environment Agency for deciding whether or not to accept an offer of an Enforcement Undertaking here - how we decide whether to accept an EU for less serious offending.

It should be noted that the charity receiving the funds plays no role in the legal process for determining whether or not an enforcement undertaking is an appropriate course of action.

An enforcement undertaking can be offered only by the polluter. The offer can be made proactively, when they realise that they have caused significant pollution, or reactively, when the Environment Agency interviews them and points out the availability of an EU as an enforcement option. Proactive offers are generally viewed more favourably by the Environment Agency.

The Environment Agency periodically publish a list of Enforcement Undertaking that they have accepted.

If you are unfortunate enough to have caused pollution and would like to talk to us about a possible Enforcement Undertaking, please contact us.