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Environment & Climate Change

We are the No.1 largest planning and environment team in the UK and the most experienced legal experts with a global reach. Our hallmark is one of commerciality, innovation, and specialist sector knowledge.

Key Contacts

Other key Environment & Climate Change contacts

We have a team of 50 specialist lawyers, with recognised leading environmental practitioners spread across all of our offices. We offer local market knowledge across the UK, from a team that is used to working together on a national basis which therefore offers a consistency of approach and quality across the board.  We regularly work on international transactions and projects with partner firms in local jurisdictions.

We continue to advise on the UK's most significant infrastructure projects, including the nuclear new build programme, thermal generation and carbon capture and storage, on and offshore renewables and waste and water projects.  We advise on all environmental issues, contentious and non-contentious, across a wide range of industry sectors, listed under our Key Market Sectors area below, for private and public sector clients. 

We take the time to keep up to speed with all industry issues not just environmental ones, in these sectors, to ensure that we offer you the best advice in the wider commercial context for your business. 

We are at the forefront of cutting edge environmental issues.  For example we were close to the sustainability agenda from the early days, when our sustainability toolkit was recognised as a vital reference point for those wishing to exploit the opportunities presented.  We are currently working with and developing best practice on new legal regimes for the deployment of on-shore and offshore renewable energy.  We provide thought leadership across a variety of emerging areas of environmental regulation, and sit on a variety of industry working groups (e.g. CBI Climate Change Working Group, All Party Parliamentary Working Party on Climate Change). 

Members of the team have led advice on a variety of leading cases in environmental law (e.g. Mayer Parry II, Scottish Power v SEPA and Bawtry).  We are expert in advising on environmental appeals and the raising and defence of judicial review challenges and have a leading environmental enforcement practice.  We offer a 24 hour environmental emergency response helpline and protocol where the first hour of advice is free.  Our experience, profile and network of contacts give us an advantage when it comes to negotiating settlements with the regulators, with members of our team having previously worked for environmental regulators.

We therefore offer market leading, best-in-class environmental advice from a large, expert team that knows your industry and has the resources to meet your needs.  We are environmental lawyers, but above all else we are commercial lawyers.  All of these factors combine to offer you tailored, commercial and pragmatic legal solutions that give you the edge over your competitors.

Key market sector areas

Energy:

Nuclear Industry – leading advisers on new nuclear build and decommissioning for developers e.g. advising Nugeneration Limited on its new build development at Sellafield, the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and local authorities on the flagship new nuclear build at Hinkley Point C.  Our advice covers site due diligence, judicial review risk, nuclear liability and historic environmental risk, in particular analysing, interpreting and applying the Nuclear Installations Act as well as Paris Convention liabilities and the UK's current position on the Amending Protocol to the Paris Convention.

Conventional Power & Carbon Capture and Storage - advising on the promotion and consenting of gas and coal-fired power stations and carbon capture and storage facilities.

Oil & Gas – advising on gas storage projects, new pipelines, oil and gas interface with off-shore windfarms, marine licensing and emerging marine conservation zones.

Emissions Trading - advising on compliance with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and the allocation of and transfer and sale of allowances e.g. we were one of the first teams to deal with the partial transfer of a Greenhouse Gas Permit.

Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) - acting on the application of the CRC across all sectors, advising on complex  joint ventures, PFI arrangements, franchise arrangements and funds e.g. advising a private equity group with holdings across various household names, a major supermarket, a leading construction firm and a major high street franchised business on their obligations, registration and compliance strategy.

Renewables: 

On-shore Wind - advising promoters and objectors on all environmental aspects of on-shore windfarms through site acquisition, consenting and inquiry or judicial review, including site risk, EIA and nature conservation. 

Off-shore Wind - advising promoters on all environmental aspects of off-shore windfarms and marine e.g. advising on two Round 3 Zones and six Rounds 1 and 2 project windfarms, including London Array, West of Duddon Sands and Gunfleet Sands.

Wave and tidal - advising on market leading developments e.g. Islay Tidal Array and Pelamis demonstrator project at EMEC.

Hydro - advising on run of river and major hydro projects e.g. confidential 350MW pumped storage project.

Biomass - advising on small and large scale biomass projects e.g. on the first consented biomass project in Scotland.

Solar - advising developers and landlords on all environmental issues, including site risk and renewable incentives.

Renewables incentives - advising generators on procuring energy efficient/low carbon strategies and securing financial incentives and generation credits/tariffs such as Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), Feed-in Tariffs (FITS), and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Waste:

Advising on major waste projects, definition of waste, environmental permitting and appeals, day to day compliance and enforcement, our reputation is second to none.  We act for all of the major waste operators.  A small selection of our waste projects experience includes: Staffordshire, Cheshire, West Sussex, Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Edinburgh and Midlothian, Border, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and Welsh Waste PFI projects (advising both bidders and authorities). Other example credentials include advising on the largest AD project in the UK, three leading cases on definition of waste, and negotiation with environmental regulators on permits and enforcement e.g. on odour, water pollution and permit breach prosecutions. We also advise on carbon reduction strategies and EU ETS, Climate Change Agreements (CCAs), CRC and renewables incentives.

Producer Responsibility - advising on the full range of producer responsibility and specialist environmental obligations from Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances (ROHS), to the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH), Energy using Products (EuPs), End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) and waste packaging.

Minerals and quarries:

Advising on waste, air quality, noise and water management, and pollution issues across environmental permitting and appeals, day to day compliance and enforcement and prosecution, as well as decommissioning and mothballing of sites.

Water industry:

Our team has deep water industry experience, advising on water industry regulation, abstraction, impoundment, waste water treatment works (WWTWs) and sludge treatment works, permitting and appeals, enforcement and prosecutions, statutory nuisance and carbon reduction, trading and renewables incentives.  Credentials include advising water utilities on over fifteen prosecutions, working with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Scottish Government on wholesale reform of water regulation and transposition of the Water Framework Directive in Scotland, advising Northern Ireland Water on all aspects of reform of the water industry in Northern Ireland, advising the UK water industry on strategy on legislative workout of EU environmental case law and advising an international water utility on complex disputes regarding waste water treatment works.

Manufacturing:

Manufacturing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals – we have a specialist focus on the decommissioning, mothballing and disposal for redevelopment of contaminated, manufacturing and chemical sites, including advice on long-term environmental contractual arrangements between chemical companies.  We also advise on permitting and appeals, REACH, day to day compliance, enforcement and prosecutions.

Transport:

Roads – advising on major roads projects e.g. acting for the successful bidder on all environmental consenting aspects of the New Forth Crossing and advising objectors to the M74 Extension and M80 works.

Rail & Trams – team members have experience advising promoters and objectors on environmental aspects of rail and tram projects e.g. on contaminated land, water pollution, invasive species and nature conservation issues on the Edinburgh Tram project and the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, contaminated land issues on the Airdrie-Bathgate line and environmental consenting on the Waverly line.

Airports – advising on allocation of site risk, environmental permitting and appeals, compliance and enforcement across airport operators, fuel farms and airport tenants e.g. advising on allocation of environmental liability across all fuel suppliers at Heathrow, advising on defence of environmental enforcement and subsequent prosecution for groundwater pollution at major UK airport.

Ports – advising on site risk, water pollution and resources consenting, marine consenting, environmental aspects of Harbour Empowerment and Revision Orders, EIA and nature conservation.

Government/Public Sector:

Local Authorities – advising local authorities on their responsibilities under the contaminated land, waste and air pollution regimes e.g. on designation of a council housing site built on former council operated landfill, on enforcement and subsequent prosecution of a local authority for landfill permit breaches,  and on a local authority's responsibilities for the insolvency of a landfill operator in its jurisdiction.

Central Government and Regulators - we are used to advising and working with Central Government and regulators on the development of policy and legislation.  For example members of the team have experience advising as part of a Central Government policy team on drafting of Regulations transposing the Water Framework Directive and advising an environmental regulator on the application of the precautionary principle in its decision making.  All members of our team are active across a range of industry groups including the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA), meaning that we are in regular contact with policy makers and legislators on proposed environmental reforms.

Healthcare – advising NHS Trusts and Private Hospital providers on assessment and allocation of environmental risks on new hospital projects across the UK, as well as on permitting and appeals, day to day compliance, enforcement and prosecutions e.g. advising an NHS trust on defence of a prosecution for breach of conditions of its hazardous waste permit.

Universities – advising universities on site investigation and allocation of environmental risk for new campus development, including accommodation and masterplan proposals across the UK, as well as permitting and appeals, operational compliance and enforcement and prosecutions.

Schools – advising on all environmental aspects of new schools programmes across the UK.

Waste - advising authorities on all environmental aspects of waste PPP/DBFO projects across the UK (see also under waste sector).

Emergency Services – advising emergency services in relation to site investigation, allocation of environmental risk, energy efficiency, carbon reduction, environmental permitting and renewables incentives on major development and infrastructure projects.

Real Estate: 

We are specialists in advising on the liabilities associated with contaminated land and the structuring of transactions to allocate liabilities including: the acquisition and disposal of industrial and manufacturing sites and related transfer of environmental responsibility and liability, environmental insurance, tax relief, and transfer of environmental permits. We also advise local authorities on their duties under the contaminated land regime e.g. acting for an international manufacturer on a hazardous waste landfill sale and an overseas developer on the acquisition of multiple sites formerly used in the minerals industry for development into a new ecotown.

Retail & Leisure:

Retail – advising food and non-food retailers on allocation of site risk and application of strategy for producer responsibility and waste obligations, carrier bag policy, carbon reduction and CRC obligations and strategy, and sustainability risks and opportunities generally.

Hotels & Tourism – advising hotel operators on new hotel developments, including site investigation and contractual allocation of environmental risk, as well as CRC liabilities and strategy.

Leisure – advising on all environmental aspects of new and extended casinos, leisure/health and fitness clubs, pubs and restaurants, and sports stadia projects.

Banks:

Advising banks and insolvency officers on their own and borrowers' potential environmental liabilities at the point of lending, restructuring, insolvency proceedings and security enforcement and all necessary contractual and practical steps to protect their position e.g. advising on financing of wind farm developments, insolvency of a landfill operator borrower, insolvency of a borrower SPV on a complex waste PPP and insolvency of an open cast mining business.

Construction:

Advising construction companies on environmental permitting, day to day compliance and enforcement and prosecutions e.g. advising a major contractor on defence of a prosecution for noise at construction site, advising a contractor on potential statutory nuisance proceedings for air quality issues and noise, and advising a contractor on negotiation with environmental regulators and police in relation to a threatened prosecution for breach of protected species legislation.  We offer a 24 hour environmental emergency response protocol and helpline, where the first hour of advice is free.