In 2014 the government allowed the Environment Agency access to powers to apply civil penalties, known as Civil Sanctions. The majority of civil sanctions applied have been Enforcement Undertakings (EU’s). These are voluntarily offered by businesses that have breached environmental regulations. This enables the Environment Agency to decide whether or not to prosecute the business for the breach. The primary purpose of enforcement undertakings is to allow the offender to restore and remediate environmental damage they have caused.
If you are responsible for a pollution incident, the first thing that you must do is report it to the Environment Agency. The sooner this is done, the less damage is likely to occur. Acting quickly to take control of environmental non-compliance may help avoid the risk of prosecution, reputational harm, legal costs, higher penalties and raised insurance costs.
For more detail on civil sanctions and enforcement actions you can read the Environment Agency guidance here (including a link to Enforcement undertaking offer form): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/environment-agency-enforcement-and-sanctions-statement