We carry out our enforcement activities in line with our Compliance and Enforcement Policy

This policy sets out the EPA’s approach to enforcement and compliance. It covers:

  • the enforcement principles that guide our work
  • the range of enforcement powers available to us
  • the facts we consider when we assess breaches of environmental legislation
  • how we inform the public about our enforcement activities.

Enforcement Principles

Our policy is based on a set of enforcement principles that guide how we implement our environmental and radiological protection activities:


Our enforcement work is risk-based, focusing resources and regulatory action on activities that pose a risk to human health and/or the environment.


Enforcement action taken is proportionate with the risk posed to human health and/or the environment, the damage already caused, and the costs of remedial works required. We also consider enforcement action where an operator commits persistent regulatory breaches.


We have systems which provide consistency in the approach to the use of enforcement powers and in deciding the appropriate enforcement response. This means that the public, the regulated community and other stakeholders know what to expect from the EPA. We promote consistency nationally through effective liaison with those we regulate and other regulatory authorities.


We support compliance within the regulated community by being clear and open about what is expected of them in terms of legal requirements and compliance and what they should expect from us in terms of regulatory oversight.

We publish enforcement information including site visit reports, monitoring results, enforcement correspondence, priority lists, performance reports and legal convictions on the EPA’s website in a timely manner.

Polluter pays

We work to ensure that polluters are held financially accountable for their actions (including bearing the cost of environmental remediation), that they do not profit from illegal activity and that they do not gain a competitive advantage over law-abiding operators.

Enforcement Powers

We have a wide range of enforcement powers, including statutory powers that are contained in environmental law. These range from notifications and instructions up to prosecution, injunction and ultimately the suspension or revocation of the licence, permit or authorisation.

Criteria determining enforcement action

We decide which enforcement action to take in any particular instance based on how serious the issue is and also the attitude and behaviour of the individual or organisation responsible. We escalate our enforcement where operators fail to quickly restore compliance and rectify any impacts.

Communication of our compliance and enforcement activities

It is our policy to make our compliance and enforcement activities available and accessible to the public. We communicate and engage with the public, stakeholders and the regulated community so they can be involved in decision making that affects their health and their environment, and to highlight key environmental issues and priorities.

In communicating our enforcement activities, we:

  • publish guidance to promote compliance
  • enable and encourage the public to make submissions on licence applications
  • publish site visit/inspections/audits on the EPA website
  • publish convictions on the EPA website
  • regularly publish updated lists of priority sites
  • publish and update additional information on Sites in the News
  • publish periodic compliance and enforcement reports highlighting the key enforcement priorities
  • respond to complaints about regulated activities

Learn more

EPA Compliance and Enforcement Policy