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The Sentencing Council published the definitive guideline on environmental offences on 26 February 2014. This guideline came into effect on 1 July 2014.

The consultation on the draft guideline was open from 14 March to 6 June 2013.

The guideline aims to promote a consistent approach to the sentencing of these offences in courts across England and Wales.

The guideline has been introduced as there was limited guidance in the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines or in Court of Appeal authority. Research also showed a lack of familiarity among magistrates with sentencing these types of offences.

The guidelines, which set out clear starting points and ranges, aim to ensure, in particular, that the level of fines given to offenders is proportionate to the seriousness of the offences they have committed so they are punished, deterred from committing more crime and if they have obtained an economic benefit by committing the offence, receive an appropriate financial penalty.

The guideline covers sentencing for the unauthorised deposit of waste (fly-tipping) under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and illegal discharges to air, land and water under Regulations 12 and 38 (1), (2) and (3) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. The definitive guideline also provides general guidance for sentencing other relevant and analogous environmental offences and provides an indicative list of such offences.