Thousands of fly-tippers could get away without criminal records as the Government changes tack in its fight against the offence.
Environment Minister Elliot Morley has announced that civil action may replace prosecutions against all but the most serious offenders.
Waste crime has become a growing problem for the Government as it prepares for a General Election next year.
A Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill was revealed in last months Queen Speech and now Morley has given an insight into what measures are being considered.
Data suggests that environmental crime is not punished to a degree that dissuades the callous or careless from offending, he told delegates at the Governments Environmental Justice Conference.
This sends out exactly the wrong signal to both industry and the public that the law is soft on environmental crime.
Civil penalties would provide a way for Government to enforce regulations in a more risk-based way, without unnecessary recourse to the courts.
This would focus resources where theyre needed most more serious environmental crimes.
Civil Law deals with private disputes rather than Crown prosecutions, and generally leads to compensation or fines.