UCL Faculty of Laws


Enforcing Environmental Regulations

Professor Richard Macrory’s research has directly influenced government policy and practice on environmental regulations, enforcement and sanctions

His research into environmental regulations has:

  • Led to the enactment of government legislation
  • Influenced the creation of a new sanctions policy between the UK Environment Agency and private companies
  • Benefited environmental charities and local communities
  • Led to the establishment of a new Environment Tribunal
  • Established new regulatory sanctions principles adopted by other agencies
  • Influenced environmental sanctions policies in other jurisdictions


In 2003, Professor Macrory, Director of the UCL Centre for Law and the Environment, was commissioned by Defra to investigate a possible new environmental tribunal. He examined the existing appeal provisions, found them to be incoherent and recommended an integrated appeals system based on a specialised tribunal. He also published a report recommending environmental civil penalties to achieve more effective regulatory reinforcement.

The Cabinet Office then appointed him to chair a review on why businesses failed to comply with regulations. The Macrory Review proposed six core principles of an effective modern sanctioning system and the Government used these recommendations to form legislation.

In 2011, the Senior President of Tribunals asked Professor Macrory to explore whether further appeal functions should be transferred to the Environment Tribunal. His report Consistency and Effectiveness has since led to the transfer of a variety of appeals.


Professor Macrory’s research has become embedded in regulatory sanctions both in environmental regulation and other areas, such as the Food Standards Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority. It has also had impact in the following areas:

Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008

The Government used Professor Macrory’s recommendations in the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008, which enabled regulators to acquire civil sanction powers. The Environment Agency in England and Wales acquired civil sanction powers for a range of environmental offences, and an Environment Tribunal was set up in 2010 to determine appeals against sanctions.

Civil sanctions

Civil sanctions are now available for companies with 250+ employees. As proposed by the Macrory Review, Enforcement Undertakings, a voluntary undertaking to right harms, are available for everyone. This has benefitted local communities and small NGOs significantly, with at least £500,000 donated to charities and small organisations under Enforcement Undertakings since 2012.

Consistency and Effectiveness

Professor Macrory’s report Consistency and Effectiveness identified a large number of existing appeals that should be transferred to the Environmental Tribunal. Various appeal functions, including Nitrogen Vulnerable Zones and Carbon Emission Trading, have now been transferred.

The Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

Based on the principles of the Macrory Review, the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 has created a new integrated regulatory framework in Scotland. Similar measures have also been taken in Northern Ireland and Israel.

Learn more

Read Professor Macrory’s report, Consistency and Effectiveness.

UKELA London Event 2010

Watch Professor Macrory discuss the issue of the Environment Court at the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) London meeting on 13 May 2010:

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPLS5Xrz9T8


Richard Macrory, Consistency and Effectiveness: Strengthening the New Environment Tribunal (2011)