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Enforcement and the Courts

Different public authorities, sometimes known as 'regulators', are responsible for investigating and dealing with different kinds of environmental problems. If you notice a problem – for example, fly-tipping, or a local river has suddenly changed colour – you should contact the relevant regulator. They rely on the public to alert them to incidents that they might not otherwise find out about.

The first action that will normally be taken is to try and clear up the pollution, but if someone is to blame for it, the regulator will need to gather evidence so that enforcement action can be taken against the culprit. For this reason, and for health and safety reasons, it is important that members of the public do not attempt to clear up themselves.

If, after investigating, the regulator finds evidence of a pollution incident or crime, it can take formal steps to enforce the law by:

The regulator can also take an informal approach: for example, talk to the person responsible and get them to agree to take steps to deal with the problem.

Regulators take a range of other decisions that affect the environment: for example, settling local development plans and dealing with applications for environmental permits. There are special procedures for challenging environmental decisions.

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