The Environmental Liability Regulations force businesses to take action to prevent environmental damage and to remedy any damage they cause. They apply to any environmental damage that occurred from:

  • 24 July 2009 in Northern Ireland
  • 24 June 2009 in Scotland.

Biodiversity damage is classed as environmental damage if it causes:

  • a significant harmful effect on the conservation status of a European Union (EU) protected species or habitat
  • in Northern Ireland, a harmful effect on the ecological structure and function of an area of special scientific interest (ASSI), for example manure spreading on protected grassland


You do not have to be at fault to be liable for environmental damage.

In Northern Ireland you are also liable for environmental damage to protected species and habitats if you intended to cause damage or were negligent. This applies to damage to ASSIs.

For more information on environmental damage, including to land and water, see our guideline: Environmental damage

Further information

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