Can the failure to act "cause" pollution?

The essential ingredients of many environmental offences are that the defendant "caused" or "knowingly permitted" the pollution in question. These are separate offences, and a recent decision of the Divisional Court has emphasised once again the importance of the prosecution choosing the correct limb, especially where a failure to maintain abatement systems is at the heart of the case. The decision also raised a significant issue of legal principle where local authorities act as agents for statutory sewerage undertakers.

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