Extending civil sanction variable monetary penalty powers

Closed 8 Oct 2023

Opened 15 Aug 2023

Feedback expected 8 Nov 2023

Results updated 7 Feb 2024

We have published our response to the consultation on GOV.UK. You can access our response by following the link below.



In April and May 2023 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ran a consultation on strengthening environmental sanctions. The consultation covered two areas:

  • increasing the overall cap for variable monetary penalties in the Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010 from its current amount of £250,000
  • introducing powers to issue variable monetary penalties for the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

Following the consultation Defra announced that the legislation would be amended to:

  • remove the current £250,000 cap under the Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010 for variable monetary penalties to make the amount unlimited
  • introduce unlimited variable monetary penalties as a civil sanction in the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

We need to update our Enforcement and Sanctions policy to take into account the changes to the legislation which are expected to come into force on 1 December 2023.

Why your views matter

This consultation focuses on the amendments we need to make to our Enforcement and Sanctions Policy in relation to the changes being made to civil sanctions and, specifically, variable monetary penalties.

We need to update our calculation methodology to bring into effect the removal of the £250,000 cap on variable monetary penalties.

We are also using the consultation to draw attention to the relevant existing Enforcement and Sanctions Policy sections that remain unchanged. This is because expanding the variable monetary penalties into the Environmental Permitting Regulations regime affects a much greater number of customers.

We are consulting to seek your views on our proposals and comment on them. We will consider your feedback and use this to refine our proposals.


What happens next

We will consider your feedback and use this to refine our proposals. We will then publish the summary of consultation response document on the consultation page on GOV.UK. We will also publish the revised Enforcement and Sanctions Policy document on GOV.UK.  


  • Businesses
  • Environment Agency customers
  • Metal recycling trade associations and site operators
  • Operators
  • Medium Combustion Plants
  • Trade associations and business


  • Business and industry
  • Flood management
  • Water resources
  • Water quality
  • Waste
  • Permits
  • Environmental permitting