. Polluters to talk to anglers before deal is done under new Civil Sanctions regime
After a long campaign, Fish Legal has welcomed the Environment Agency's announcement that anglers will be involved before deals are done with polluters. Fish Legal believes that "Enforcement Undertakings" (EUs) - one of a raft of measures introduced under the Environmental Civil Sanctions Order 2010 - could lead to secretive agreements with polluters without angler involvement where rivers have been damaged by pollution.
"Civil Sanctions" provide an alternative to prosecution. Instead of paying a fine to the Treasury, polluters can put right the damage which they have caused - for instance - by restocking.
Most anglers would be supportive of such measures if they were drafted properly in the legislation by DEFRA and implemented fairly. However, Fish Legal has argued that the way EUs are described in the legislation could lead to agreements between polluters and regulators reached behind closed doors - without full angler involvement or publicity. The Environment Agency announced at the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association conference on 27th June 2010 that it had now taken on-board the concerns of Fish Legal.
It has been confirmed that the Agency will require evidence from the polluter that it has consulted third parties affected by pollution, including angling clubs, before signing-off an undertaking by issuing a Certificate of Completion. It will also be made clear to polluters that the sanctions are not an alternative to civil claims made by those affected by environmental damage. Importantly, the content of all EUs will be actively published and the sanction will be subject to the Freedom of Information legislation.
"After over a year of letters and consultations, we felt as though we were up against a relentless DEFRA legislative steam-train." said Justin Neal, Head Solicitor at Fish Legal.
"However, the Agency now appears to have understood our well-founded objections at the way in which Enforcement Undertakings might be implemented."
"At first, DEFRA completely ignored our warnings and pushed on without making some very simple amendments to the Environmental Civil Sanctions Order. We then pressed the Agency to produce guidance on implementation to recognise our concerns. It appears that the Agency now agrees with us in confirming that it will require full participation of third parties which have been affected by pollutions - including affected angling interests.
This is not just a positive outcome for angling but also for the members of the public who want to keep all deals with polluters out in the open and available for scrutiny."TAC