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land owner fined following first prosecution under EIA Regulations

2 April 2014

Richard Whitton was fined £2,500 (reduced from £3,750 for an early guilty plea) and ordered to pay £10,000 in prosecution costs by magistrates on 31 March 2014 for failing to comply with a remediation notice under the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations 2006.

In the first prosecution brought under these Regulations, the court heard that Mr Whitton had installed a number of drainage pipes on his land at Miller Beck, one of the most important County Wildlife Sites in Cumbria. He did so without applying to Natural England for the requisite consent to do so.

Carl May-Smith of Browne Jacobson, prosecuting on behalf of Natural England, explained that, despite considerable efforts to convince Mr Whitton to remove the drains, he had not done so and had undertaken further drainage work in defiance of two remediation notices.

In passing a sentence approaching the maximum £5,000 fine, the magistrates emphasised that they considered offences of this kind to be serious.

This case demonstrates that, whilst Natural England generally brings prosecutions as a last resort, it will do so if necessary to protect important sites. Mr Whitton assured the court that he would immediately complete all necessary remedial work.

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