The Offshore Environmental Civil Sanctions Regulations 2018 came into force on 1 October 2018. They can apply to relevant offshore environmental offences committed from 1 November 2018 onward. Click here to see our blog and handy guide with more information on the new environmental civil sanctions.

As we previously explained, the regulator responsible for implementation of the sanctions regime is the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for the Environment and Decommissioning ("OPRED"). They must draft, publish and consult on guidance on how the new civil sanctions regime will work in practice and how it will make decisions in relation to application of civil sanctions.

OPRED has published this guidance (click here to read it) and has launched a consultation seeking views on the guidance (click here for more information on the consultation). The consultation closes on 18 December 2018.

OPRED seeks answers to 7 questions including:-:

  1. Are you content with the safeguards in place for OPRED establishing liability for a proposed civil penalty?
  2. Are you content with OPRED's approach to determining whether a civil sanction is an appropriate enforcement response?

Among other key information, the draft guidance sets out OPRED's considerations when determining whether a civil sanction is appropriate in the circumstances of the environmental offence. Public policy factors are relevant to this determination and the draft guidance explains that offences involving gross negligence, foreseeable incidents, uncooperative operators or those with a history of unheeded warnings from enforcement notices are more likely to attract civil sanctions. We will comment more fully on the guidance and its practical implications once it has been issued in final form.