Environmental Health Enforcement

The environmental health service units have a formal policy which sets out how they will exercise their enforcement powers and deal with offenders.

The environmental health service units

Fair and effective enforcement is essential to protect the health, safety, environment and well being of residents and businesses of, and visitors to, South Somerset. Enforcement means all of our activities that ensure that the law is being respected. We are committed to making sure that people keep within the law. Wherever possible we will work with you to make any improvements which are necessary, but in certain cases we have to take enforcement action. Example offences are: noisy neighbours, burning hazardous materials, cross contamination of food and smoking in a public place.


 

Our approach to enforcement

We will use our enforcement powers to make sure that the public, employees, customers, animals and the environment are protected from harm. We will not use our enforcement powers unless we have to. Every person who breaks the law will be dealt with according to the circumstances of the case and whether local people's health and safety, the environment or public well being is affected. We aim to give you advice so you know what to do to put things right and what you can expect from us. We will be fair and consistent and look into each case as fully as possible. If our investigations show that you are not breaking the law, we will write to let you know.

 

Minor breaches of the law

If you are willing to put things right, we will normally just give a written or verbal warning or revisit to check that work has been done. If we write to you, we will make it clear whether we are telling you something you must do, or just giving you advice about things you may do.

 

Significant breaches of the law

Where there is a risk of nuisance, or harm to the environment, local amenities, health or safety, we will usually send you the most appropriate notice immediately. The notice will either require you to stop doing something or to carry out necessary improvements to resolve a breach of the law. A notice is a formal document requiring you to do something and which can be enforced in the courts or directly by the Council. Failure to comply with many notices is a criminal offence. Notices will continue in force until complied with, withdrawn by the Council or quashed by a Court. Notices may be declared by the Council on searches and you may be required to disclose a notice on the sale of your property. We will also write to tell you how and when you can appeal against our decision and whether we will delay our enforcement action until after the appeal has been decided.

 

Serious breaches of the law

We may prosecute you if you do any of the following: 

  • Create a serious risk of nuisance, or serious harm to the environment, local amenities, health or safety.
  • Show an obvious disregard of your legal responsibilities.
  • Fail to meet the requirements of an enforcement notice.
  • Obstruct one of our officers.
  • Commit an offence which is so serious that other forms of action would be inappropriate.

Before we decide whether to prosecute you, we will consider the following:

  • How serious the offence is.
  • Whether you are willing to prevent the problem from happening again.
  • How the public would benefit if you were prosecuted.
  • Whether other, less serious, action would be as effective or more appropriate.
  • Any explanation you offered about the offence.
  • If we decide to prosecute you, we will do so as quickly as possible.
 

Making representations about the actions we propose to take

We provide a procedure for you to make representations so that we can take your circumstances into account before we take enforcement action. This will not happen in serious cases where we must take immediate action. We will write to you explaining why we are considering taking enforcement action. You may then make representation to the appropriate unit manager. You should only make representations if you feel that any of the following apply to you:

  • What we are asking you to do is too harsh considering the harm you are causing by not staying within the law.
  • What we are asking you to do goes beyond what you must do by law.
  • The officer dealing with the case has not considered all the relevant facts or has not looked at other ways of dealing with the problem.
  • Your alternative proposal does not go against government guidelines or local policies. If you want to make representations, you should do so in writing within fourteen days of receiving our letter. If you want to meet a senior officer to discuss the case you must tell us within seven days of receiving our letter.
 

Legals rights of appeal

Your opportunity to make representations about your case does not affect your legal right to appeal against enforcement notices. All notices we send will include information about your legal rights.

 

Useful Information:

Environmental Protection Enforcement Policy 2016-2020 incorporating the Regulators Code

South Somerset District Council Regulatory Services Enforcement Policy 2016-2020 incorporating the Regulators Code