Environmental Law Blog

Questions of environmental justice, the climate crisis, biodiversity and resource management are among the defining issues of our time. 

Questions of environmental justice, the climate crisis, biodiversity and resource management are among the defining issues of our time. 

The law, litigation and legal process have a fundamental role to play in shaping the debates, policy development and decision-making in these areas. The balance struck by the law and policy between environmental protection and economic considerations has never been more topical. Against that background, FTB's specialist team of environmental lawyers has created the Environmental Law Blog (ELB). Blog posts will be posted on this page, and you are encouraged to subscribe to be notified of new posts and keep abreast of developments in this evolving field.

The ELB seeks to provide insights, updates and commentary on developments in environmental law and policy. From the Environment Act 2021 to climate litigation, from ground-breaking domestic and international cases to developments in environmental policy, ELB endeavours to cover the issues that matter most for those working in, and affected by, environmental law. Since the launch of the ELB in 2021, we have covered a wide range of topics, from drought to net zero; from statutory nuisance to single use plastics, on the latter of which the blog has been cited in a House of Lords debate.

ELB Editorial Team

Commissioning Editors
Esther Drabkin-Reiter
Jonathan Welch

Editorial Board
Richard Honey KC
Ned Westaway
Merrow Golden
Flora Curtis
Mark O'Brien O'Reilly
Claire Nevin
Dr Richard Caddell

20
Feb' 24
Specific Disclosure of Ministerial Submissions: the Cumbria Coalmine Case

Stephanie Bruce-Smith

When is specific disclosure of ministerial submissions appropriate in the context of a section 288 appeal? This was the question with which the court had to grapple in Friends of the Earth Ltd v SSLUHC and others [2023] EWHC 3255 (KB).

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06
Feb' 24
Environment Agency CARs Under Scrutiny: rights of appeal should generally be available to those aggrieved by these “regulatory decisions”

Horatio Waller

Regulators must meet reasonable standards of transparency and proportionality when exercising their functions. Those standards have to some extent always been present in the common law.

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01
Feb' 24
FTB Environmental Law Blog Welcomes New Members of the Editorial Board

Claire Nevin

Dr Richard Caddell

Happy New Year from FTB’s Environmental Law Blog! We are delighted to announce two new members of the Editorial Board – Dr Richard Caddell and Claire Nevin, whose biographies are provided below.

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23
Jan' 24
ClientEarth v FCA: Climate Change Case Held Unarguable

Richard Honey KC

ClientEarth’s judicial review of the Financial Conduct Authority’s decision to approve the prospectus of Ithaca Energy plc has been refused permission by Lang J after a renewed application.  The Judge also held that the challenge was not an Aarhus Convention claim.

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20
Dec' 23
Habitats Protections Under Fire: Part 2 – The Energy Act 2023

Stephanie Bruce-Smith

On 26th October 2023, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 and the Energy Act 2023 received royal assent.[1]  Both Acts will implement significant changes to existing environmental law or include powers to do this by way of regulations. In particular, their enactment is likely to result in changes to existing protection under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (the ‘Habitats Regulations 2017’). 

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01
Dec' 23
Habitats Protections Under Fire: Part 1 – the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act 2023

Stephanie Bruce-Smith

On 26th October 2023, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 and the Energy Act 2023 received royal assent. Both Acts will implement significant changes to existing environmental law or include powers to do this by way of regulations. 

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21
Nov' 23
Overview of the Regulatory Regimes Governing the Use of PFAS

Claire Nevin

This blog is the second of a two-part series on Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”), or so-called “forever chemicals”. Part 1 provided an overview of the environmental and public health risks associated with PFAS and explored the potential legal avenues for providing redress in the courts. Part 2 considers in more detail the regulatory regimes governing the use of PFAS.

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25
Oct' 23
Marine Environmental Law in the UK: Overview of Current and Proposed Steps

Helen Mitcheson

The marine environment is important in many ways. It is vital, therefore, that it is protected.  This article explores the current policy and targets in relation to the marine environment around England, both in respect of nature protection and recovery, and targets for renewable energy.  It then discusses mechanisms to meet these targets and how these will potentially work together.  

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20
Sep' 23
Governance without Government: problems for the environment in Northern Ireland

Anurag Deb

A functioning government may be a given in most parts of the world, but it has become somewhat of a luxury in Northern Ireland.

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14
Sep' 23
North Sea Oil and Gas: Exploration and Regulation in the Shadow of Net Zero

Gabriel Kocjancic Nelson

The Government recently announced plans to expand oil and gas drilling in the North Sea. The decision has been subject to wide-spread controversy, including criticism from conservative MP Chris Skidmore and several NGOs. Currently, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the regulatory body overseeing the licensing and exploration of oil and gas, is undertaking the 33rd offshore oil and gas licensing round. A total in excess of 100 licences is expected to be awarded in the autumn.

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11
Sep' 23
Windfarms: Re-birth or false dawn?

Andrew Fraser-Urquhart KC

Andrew Fraser-Urquhart KC reflects on last week’s policy announcements about onshore wind.
I used to love windfarm inquiries. They were inevitably in remote and scenic places, the passionate views on both sides of the argument always made them lively encounters, and the advocates’ task in weighing up the nuances of energy policy against the Marmite views on visual impact was always a great challenge.  

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01
Sep' 23
ClientEarth v Shell Plc: Review and Lessons for Future Climate Litigation

Richard Honey KC

Tobin Byers

This article explores the recent High Court decision of Mr Justice Trower to refuse permission for ClientEarth to proceed with an application against Shell for alleged breaches of directors’ duties relating to climate change (ClientEarth v Shell Plc [2023] EWHC 1897 (Ch)). It looks at the background to the claim and the judgment itself, before considering the lessons for future climate litigation.

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27
Jul' 23
Current legal Challenges and Opportunities in Scottish Environmental Law

Niall McLean, Rebecca Morrison

Post Brexit, the Scottish environmental law landscape looks a bit different. In this blog we summarise some of the current challenges and opportunities in Scotland. We've chosen to describe those as being about continuity, consistency and court reform. 

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19
Jul' 23
Litigating “Forever Chemicals”

Claire Nevin

This blog is the first of a two-part series on PFAS, or so-called “forever chemicals”. Part 1 provides an overview of the environmental and public health risks associated with PFAS and explores the potential legal avenues for providing redress in the courts. Part 2 will consider in more detail the regulatory regime governing the use of PFAS in the EU and UK.

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12
Jun' 23
Environmental Damage in the Context of International Criminal Law

Richard Honey KC

It is now two years since the ‘Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide’ published its definition and commentary on ecocide.  Since then there has been much discussion about whether a new crime of ecocide should be created within the framework of the International Criminal Court Rome Statute. 

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08
Jun' 23
Jalla v Shell – When is a Nuisance “Continuing”?

John Jolliffe

The Supreme Court has given a significant judgment about nuisance, civil procedure and the law of limitation in Jalla v Shell [2023] UKSC 16. 

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06
Jun' 23
Opportunities and challenges for environmental law in England and Northern Ireland – The Office for Environmental Protection

Kate Tandy

In this blog post, I set out the key functions of the Office for Environmental Protection and highlight a selection of its work under its scrutiny of environmental law and enforcement functions during its first 18 months.

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22
May' 23
Cumbria Coalmine – Deep Dive – Part 2

Merrow Golden

Dr Hannah Blitzer

On 7 December 2022, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities released the Secretary of State, Michael Gove’s, highly anticipated called-in Decision Letter on a coal mine located in Whitehaven, West Cumbria. The decision granted planning permission to West Cumbria Mining Ltd under s 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for a metallurgical coal mine. The mine will produce “coking” coal, which is used for steel production (as opposed to thermal coal which is used for power generation).  

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19
May' 23
Cumbria Coalmine – Deep Dive– Part 1

Merrow Golden

Hannah Blitzer

On 7 December 2022, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities released the Secretary of State, Michael Gove’s, highly anticipated called-in Decision Letter on a coal mine located in Whitehaven, West Cumbria. The decision granted planning permission to West Cumbria Mining Ltd under s 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for a metallurgical coal mine. The mine will produce “coking” coal, which is used for steel production (as opposed to thermal coal which is used for power generation).  

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11
May' 23
Litigating to Protect the Rights of Nature: Case Studies from around the World

Flora Curtis

Central to the legal concept of ‘rights of nature’ is of course the idea that an ecosystem or feature of the natural environment can be a subject of rights, and that those rights be enforceable through the courts. In recent years, the discussion and application of nature rights has grown in decisions of courts around the world.

 

 

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25
Apr' 23
The Ship Has Reached the Shore: The BBNJ Treaty and Contributions of the African Group

Dr Michael Imran Kanu

‘The ship has reached the shore’ were the famous words of Ambassador Rena Lee of Singapore, the President of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS or the Convention) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). 

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17
Apr' 23
Environmental Law Blog 2nd Year Anniversary and Drinks Reception

The Editorial Board are pleased to announce an afternoon seminar and early evening drinks reception to mark the 2nd year anniversary of chambers’ Environmental Law Blog on the 20 April 2023.  

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14
Apr' 23
Bridging the Implementation Gap: The Role of Advisory Opinions in Clarifying States’ Legal Duties on the Climate Crisis

Claire Nevin

The Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 04 November 2016, created a legally binding framework on state parties to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to contain it to 1.5 degrees. 

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06
Apr' 23
Environmental Outcome Reports: Consultation

Horatio Waller

In its Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the Government proposes a regime of Environmental Outcome Reports (‘EORs’) to replace the current system of Environmental Impact Assessments (‘EIAs’). 

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29
Mar' 23
Can we Keep 1.5 Alive? Key Messages from the AR6 Synthesis Report

Flora Curtis

Last week, the IPCC issued a press release announcing the production of a Synthesis Report, the last to be produced during the Panel’s sixth assessment cycle. 

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23
Mar' 23
ESG: Environmental Social Governance A load of old greenwash?

Keith Oliver

Transition to net zero in the UK and in many other jurisdictions relies heavily upon consumer and investor pressure, combined with Environmental Social Governance (“ESG”) disclosure requirements. 

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21
Mar' 23
Darwall v Dartmoor: open-air recreation re-defined?

Stephanie Bruce-Smith

On 13 January 2023, the High Court held that the right to access Dartmoor Commons for ‘open-air recreation’ under the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 did not include a right to camp there overnight. Many, including the National Parks Authority for Dartmoor (“the DNPA”), had long considered that such a right existed.

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07
Mar' 23
CJEU Case Law – Recent Important Environmental Law Cases Post-Brexit

Mark O’Brien O’Reilly

English lawyers would be well advised to cast their eyes south of Dover and across the water to the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”). Although the United Kingdom has left the European Union, the caselaw of the CJEU still has an important role to play in environmental litigation within domestic courts. 

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23
Feb' 23
Gateshead Revisited – when can it be assumed that carbon emission controls will be effective? A look at Ground 3 in Bristol Airport Action Network Co-Ordinating Committee v SSLUHC and Bristol Airport

Michael Rhimes

When granting planning permission, can it be assumed that the systems for controlling carbon emissions will be effective?  

This was an issue when a Panel appointed by the Secretary of State granted planning permission to an extension of Bristol Airport (“the Decision”). 

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21
Feb' 23
News from FTB’s Environmental Law Blog

FTB’s Environmental Law Blog now has a dedicated page on LinkedIn – please follow us here

We also are delighted to announce that recent tenant Mark O'Brien O'Reilly has accepted an invitation to join the Editorial Board. Flora Curtis has taken over as acting commissioning editor while Jonathan Welch is on parental leave. Their biographies are provided below.

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15
Feb' 23
The Right Balance? First Environmental Targets Published

Michael Feeney

On 16 December 2022 DEFRA published the first environmental targets pursuant to the Environment Act 2021 [1].  The Environment Act requires that at least one ‘long-term’ target is set for each of the four priority areas: air, water, biodiversity and resource efficiency and waste reduction [2].  

 

 

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08
Feb' 23
Fearn v Tate [2023] UKSC 4: Supreme Court Disagrees About Nuisance Yet Again

Robert McCracken KC

Overlooking can be a Nuisance

The Supreme Court has at last delivered its long awaited judgement in Fearn v Tate [2023] UKSC 4. It has overturned the Court of Appeal, and held that overlooking into luxury flats from the neighbouring Blavatnik Building public gallery on the South Bank was a private (amenity) nuisance. 

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07
Feb' 23
COP15 and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework – Part 2: what happened in Montreal?

Esther Drabkin-Reiter

In December 2022, at the second part of the Fifteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (“COP15”), the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (“the KMGBF”) was adopted. 

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02
Feb' 23
COP15 and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework – Part 1: background to the Convention on Biological Diversity

Esther Drabkin-Reiter

In December 2022, at the second part of the Fifteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (“COP15”), the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (“the KMGBF”) was adopted.

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19
Jan' 23
Torres Strait Islanders Decision: Admissibility, Article 6 and Adaptation

Stephanie Bruce-Smith

The Torres Strait Islands, a group of islands situated between Australia and New Guinea, are home to one of the most vulnerable populations to the impact of climate change.

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21
Dec' 22
The COP27 Summit

Mark O’Brien O’Reilly

The COP27 Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, which took place in the midst of conflict in Ukraine and an energy crisis, concluded in late November 2022 with a number of notable developments, despite the fact that the State parties failed to commit to phasing out fossil fuels. 

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25
Nov' 22
Conservation Covenants: Procedure for applications to discharge/modify or for a declaration about an obligation

Charles Forrest

Conservation Covenants under Part 7 of the Environment Act 2021 (“EA 2021”) came into force on 30 September 2022. 

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15
Nov' 22
Walleys Quarry: Mediation as an Effective Tool for Environmental Regulators

Jeremy Phillips KC, Horatio Waller

As a means of resolving environmental disputes, mediation can be shown to offer many really significant benefits to regulators, be they local authorities, the Environment Agency or central Government. 

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09
Nov' 22
Harris v The Environment Agency [2022] EWHC 2606 (Admin) - Remedies

Mark O’Brien O’Reilly

In my blogpost dated 23 September 2022, I analysed the judgment in Harris v The Environment Agency [2022] EWHC 2264 (Admin) of 6 September 2022, which illustrated the application of the EU Habitats Directive, and of European law more widely, post-Brexit.

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04
Nov' 22
Retained EU law - Bonfire of Environmental Regulations?

Robert McCracken KC, Ned Westaway

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill that was introduced into Parliament on 22 September 2022 goes to Committee stage in the House of Commons next week.  The Bill is of enormous significance and will require careful scrutiny by Parliament.

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31
Oct' 22
The Irish Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss

Claire Nevin

In April 2022, the Irish Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss (“the Assembly”) held its inaugural meeting in Dublin Castle. Since then, the Assembly, which is made up of 99 randomly-selected members of the public and an independent Chairperson, has been examining how the state can improve its response to biodiversity loss. On completion of its work in December 2022, the Assembly will present a report and recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament).

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27
Oct' 22
Wild Justice v Water Services Regulation Authority [2022] EWHC 2608 (Admin)

Esther Drabkin-Reiter

On 18 October 2022, a reserved judgment was handed down by Mr Justice Bourne refusing permission to apply for judicial review in a claim issued by Wild Justice against the Water Services Regulation Authority (“Ofwat”), following an oral permission hearing on 27 September 2022.

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18
Oct' 22
‘There’s Nothing Left to Do but Sing’ - Recent Developments in the Regulation of Combined Sewage Overflows

Brendan Brett

The discharge of considerable quantities of untreated sewage into rivers and coastal waters, has, understandably, caused outrage in recent months in England and Wales.

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30
Sep' 22
The Climate Change Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Anurag Deb

On 6 June 2022, the Climate Change Bill (No. 2), passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly in March 2022, was granted royal assent. Northern Ireland had finally enacted its own climate change statute after discussing the need for such a statute for over a decade.

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23
Sep' 22
Harris v The Environment Agency [2022] EWHC 2264 (Admin)

Mark O’Brien O’Reilly

Johnson J has handed down judgment in Harris v The Environment Agency [2022] EWHC 2264 (Admin). The judgment illustrates the application of the EU Habitats Directive, and of European law more widely, post-Brexit. 

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16
Sep' 22
Drought Permits and Drought Orders

Michael Feeney

After one of the driest summers on record, 11 of the 14 Environment Agency (“EA”) areas in England are now in drought. As the EA has explained on its website, this change in status ‘does not automatically trigger actions itself, but moving to drought status means that the Environment Agency and water companies will step up their actions to manage the impacts and press ahead with implementing the stages of their pre-agreed drought plans.’

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07
Sep' 22
Climate Change and the European Court of Human Rights: Agostinho v Portugal & Ors 39371/20

Jonathan Welch

The magnitude of the issue of climate change is reflected in its ever-increasing invocation and appearance in litigation across diverse jurisdictions, and its frequent reference in legislation and administrative decisions as a material consideration. 

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26
Jul' 22
Movement Building Around ‘Rights of nature’

Dr Ciara Brennan

There is growing interest in the concept of ‘rights of nature’ and the legal possibilities it offers as a means of protecting the natural world when regulatory efforts fail. In a practical and legal sense, this is centred on the premise that nature has the right to defend itself in a court of law against harms.

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22
Jul' 22
Hot Off the Press – High Court Finds Net Zero Strategy to be Unlawful

Merrow Golden

In what has been described as a “landmark ruling”, the High Court has held that the Net Zero Strategy 2021 (“NZS”) was unlawful due to a failure by the Secretary of State to comply with sections 13 and 14 of the Climate Change Act 2008 (“CCA 2008”).

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12
Jul' 22
The Office for Environmental Protection: Strategy, Enforcement and early actions

Michael Feeney

On June 23rd the Office for Environmental Protection (“OEP”) published its first Strategy and Enforcement Policy. 

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05
Jul' 22
The Bill of Rights Bill, Positive Obligations, and the Environment

Flora Curtis

This article seeks to outline some of the potential implications the UK Government’s new Bill of Rights Bill (“the Bill”), introduced in Parliament on 22 June 2022, on human rights as they relate to the environment.

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22
Jun' 22
An Introduction to ESG

Jonathan Welch

ESG has become a much mused over acronym in recent years, but what does it mean? In this short post I intend to sketch a few introductory remarks with a focus on why the topic may be of interest to environmental lawyers. What follows is taken from a paper I delivered at the FTB Quarterly Environment Update Seminar in May.

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31
May' 22
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and the Environment – what is proposed?

Mark O’Brien O’Reilly

The government, with much fanfare, has published the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. The government says that the Bill, which will deliver widespread reforms to the planning system, will result in improved environmental outcomes and stronger protections for the environment in local plans.

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30
May' 22
FTB Environmental Law Blog celebrates its 1st birthday – and welcomes new members of the Editorial Board

Flora Curtis

FTB’s Environmental Law Blog (ELB) recently celebrated its 1st birthday. We are delighted to announce two new members of the Editorial Board – Dr Ciara Brennan and Flora Curtis, whose biographies are provided below.

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05
May' 22
Nature Recovery Green Paper: Protected Sites and Species

Michael Feeney

In March 2022, DEFRA published a consultation paper entitled the Nature Recovery Green Paper: Protected Sites and Species (“the Green Paper”). The aim of the Green Paper is to propose and consult on reforms that are needed to meet the species target that will be introduced under the Environment Act 2021 and the government’s commitment to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030 (30 by 30).

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04
Apr' 22
Brave New (and Green) World: Biodiversity Net Gain

Flora Curtis, Michael Rhimes

This is a further post on the Environment Act 2021 (“the Act”) dealing with the new provisions on biodiversity net gain (“BNG”), found in Part 6 of the Act, and the ongoing consultation on BNG that is being carried out by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (“Defra”). These provisions are not yet in force. This article is therefore forward-looking, and considers what is on the horizon for environmental law.

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24
Mar' 22
The Potential Legal Effect of Declarations of Climate Emergency

Richard Honey KC, Mark O’Brien O’Reilly

Local authorities across the UK have made climate emergency declarations in large numbers. These are generally declarations which say that humanity is facing a climate emergency and that urgent action to address climate change and its effects is needed.

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24
Feb' 22
Scope 3 Emissions Can Lawfully be Included in EIAs: Finch in the Court of Appeal

Flora Curtis

Last Thursday, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the claimant against Holgate J’s decision to refuse an application for judicial review of Surrey County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for crude oil extraction. 

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14
Feb' 22
R (Richards) v Environment Agency [2022] EWCA Civ 26: A Return to Normalcy

Michael Feeney

Case Note: Judgment of the Court of Appeal on 17 January 2022

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02
Feb' 22
Statutory nuisance - and the power of mediation…

Jeremy Phillips KC

The legislation relating to statutory nuisance can be a powerful tool to bring recalcitrant operators, or inconsiderate neighbours, into line. It is, however, a field fraught with technical traps for the unwary and, in even the most straightforward case, significant cost.

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27
Jan' 22
Office for Environmental Protection: lift off!  Launch of draft strategy and enforcement policy

Ned Westaway

The new Office for Environmental Protection (“OEP”) came into existence in November 2021 (and existed in ‘embryonic’ form for some considerable time before then), but this week is momentous for two reasons: on Monday 24 January 2022, the OEP was given its powers (by virtue of the Environment Act 2021 (Commencement No. 2 and Saving Provision) Regulations 2022) and on Tuesday 25 January – wasting no time – the OEP launched a consultation on its draft strategy and draft enforcement policy.

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20
Jan' 22
The Environment Act 2021: Background, Structure and Targets

Michael Rhimes

The Act was billed as “the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth” – admittedly in the Conservative Party Manifesto in 2019 (see here, p. 5 of the PDF), where understatements are rare. But the Act as a whole was clearly envisaged as a watershed moment for the protection of the environment in the UK.

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11
Jan' 22
Case Summary: R (oao Rights: Community: Action) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2021] EWCA Civ 1954

Flora Curtis

The Claimant, Rights: Community: Action, is a campaigning organisation which sought to quash three statutory instruments (“the SIs”) made by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in July 2020. The SIs adjusted “permitted development” rights and removed certain changes of use from the scope of development control. 

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30
Nov' 21
R (RSPB) v Natural England [2021] EWCA Civ 1637: Hen Harrier Brood Management Trial survives in the Court of Appeal

Caroline Daly

Case Note: Judgment of the Court of Appeal on 9 November 2021

The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in an appeal brought by the RSPB and Dr Mark Avery regarding the lawfulness of the grant of a licence by Natural England to “take and disturb” hen harriers for “scientific, research or educational purposes” pursuant to section 16(1)(a) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The licence facilitated a scientific trial of hen harrier brood management in the northern English uplands.

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22
Nov' 21
Climate Change Litigation: I fought the law, when I might have fought the lawmakers

Anurag Deb

The Earth’s climate has been changing at an alarming rate, with the IPCC confirming earlier this year the scale of the problem. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties recently concluded in Glasgow, with a draft text which has proved divisive on the issues of fossil fuels, equity, loss and damage.

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16
Nov' 21
COP26 – A Look at Week Two and the Glasgow Climate Pact

Michael Rhimes

COPs are a mixed bunch. Some have lead to significant success. The 2015 COP led to the Paris Agreement, which spells out a large part of the international legal framework to combat climate change. Some have been much less successful. The COP in Copenhagen in 2009 (COP15) all but disintegrated, with one chief negotiator lambasting the resultant agreement as “the lowest level of ambition you can imagine

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10
Nov' 21
COP26: Week 1 Review

Flora Curtis

COP26 is the twenty-sixth conference of the 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992 (see this previous blog post by Michael Rhimes on the international law framework and background to the conference). 

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25
Oct' 21
COP26 – A Primer to the International Framework of Climate Change

Michael Rhimes

The Sixth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes for grim reading. It concludes that it is “unequivocal” that human influence has warmed the earth; that “widespread and rapid” changes have occurred; and that this pace of change is unprecedented in the last 2000 years (See Summary for Policy-makers here, August 2021, A.1;

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20
Oct' 21
Climate Change and Human Rights – Has a Tipping Point Now Been Reached?

Merrow Golden

Over the past five or so years, there has been what can only be described as a soar in the number of cases being brought around the world relating to climate change.

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08
Oct' 21
The Church, COP 26 and the Environmental Agenda

Morag Ellis KC

Faith groups are taking an interest in COP 26 and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope and the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch are all due to attend, with their teams of advisors. These three leaders have recently issued an unprecedented joint statement calling on people “whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices… 

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06
Oct' 21
Article 2 and Article 8 ECHR engaged by failure to regulate hydrogen sulphide emissions from landfill - R (on the application of Richards) v Environment Agency and Walleys Quarry Limited [2021] EWHC 2

Esther Drabkin-Reiter

Judgment of Mr Justice Fordham handed down on 16 September 2021. Following an expedited rolled up judicial review hearing, the High Court has issued a declaration in terms that, in order to comply with its legal obligations, the Environment Agency (EA) must:

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29
Sep' 21
The Case for the Recognition of the Right to a Healthy Environment at the International Level

Mark O’Brien O’Reilly

In March 2021, a joint statement, endorsed by 69 States, was delivered to the UN Human Rights Council calling for the recognition of the right to a healthy environment at the international level.  This was complemented by another joint statement to the Human Rights Council, endorsed by fifteen UN Entities, led by the UN Environment Programme, which argued that the time for recognition of the right is now.

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17
Sep' 21
Net Biodiversity Gain: Challenges and how they can be overcome (2 of 2)

Horatio Waller

Biodiversity is presently a key consideration in the planning system only where development is proposed on or nearby a site that is specifically protected, such as a SSSI. The Environment Bill proposes to make biodiversity an overriding consideration throughout the vast majority of the country which is not subject to site specific protection. 

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29
Jul' 21
Public Authorities and Environmental Information

Robert McCracken KC, Meyric Lewis KC

This post is an abridged version of a longer article first published in the February 2021 issue of the Journal of Planning and Environmental Law (Public Authorities and Environmental Information [2021] 2 JPL 160).

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27
Jul' 21
Retained EU law: Habitats and Species – Calm Before the Storm?

Ned Westaway

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (“the Conservation Regulations”) (and the equivalent offshore SI) is “retained EU law” under the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 (“EUWA 2018”) and, more specifically, “EU-derived domestic legislation”.  This post briefly examines what that means, what further changes may be expected and some issues arising.

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27
Jul' 21
Climate Change Challenge to Roads Strategy Fails

Richard Honey KC

Mr Justice Holgate handed down judgment on 26 July 2021 in the case of R (Transport Action Network Ltd) v Secretary of State for Transport [2021] EWHC 2095 (Admin). The case was a climate change focussed judicial review of the Government’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) set under s3 of the Infrastructure Act 2015.  Highways England is to develop and construct the road schemes identified in RIS2.  RIS2 covered 45 road schemes rolled forward from RIS1 and five new schemes, including the Lower Thames Crossing.  

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12
Jul' 21
Environmental Law and Retained EU Case Law

Richard Honey KC

Much of the UK’s domestic environmental law is derived from EU law.  This covers strategic environmental assessment, environmental impact assessment and the protection of habitats and species, amongst many other areas.  The domestic regulations covering these areas qualify as retained EU law and now need to be considered and applied in light of the arrangements for dealing with EU exit. 

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16
Jun' 21
Does the Environment Bill ‘enshrine’ environmental principles in English law?

Professor Pavlos Eleftheriadis

The Queen’s Speech of December 2019, i.e. that of the second Johnson government, announced a new Environment Bill, which would ‘enshrine in law environmental principles and legally-binding targets’. It was notable modification of the earlier statement about the same Bill made in October 2019 in the Queen’s Speech of the first Johnson government, which had stated that: ‘for the first time, environmental principles will be enshrined in law’.

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04
Jun' 21
The scrutiny and Advice Functions of the Office for Environmental Protection

Richard Honey KC

Alexis Norris

The Office for Environmental Protection (“OEP”) is to be a new, independent, statutory body created under the Environment Bill to support environmental protection, improve the natural environment and hold public bodies to account. It is expected that the OEP will begin implementing its non-statutory functions in July.  

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01
Jun' 21
Net Biodiversity Gain: The Nuts and Bolts (1 of 2)

Horatio Waller

This is the first of a two-part series on the net biodiversity gain provisions set out in the Environment Bill. They would make it a mandatory condition for most development to achieve a 10% biodiversity net gain in order to proceed.

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24
May' 21
Climate Change Bill (Northern Ireland) 2021

Anurag Deb

On 10 May 2021, after six hours of plenary debates, the Climate Change Bill (Northern Ireland) 2021 (the Bill) passed its second stage, with 58 votes in favour and 29 against. Introduced on 22 March by Clare Bailey MLA, it remains the only attempt by the Assembly to put Northern Ireland’s climate change policy on a statutory footing.

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10
May' 21
Environment Bill 2019-21: Conservation Covenants (Part 1 of 2: what they are and how they work)

Charles Forrest

Background of the Environment Bill 2019-21

The previous version of the bill- the Environment Bill 2019- fell at the dissolution of Parliament for the General Election in December 2019. It was reintroduced in substantially the same form in the current Parliament and is called The Environment Bill 2019-21.

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07
May' 21
What’s SUP? Single-Use Plastics, the Internal Market Act and the Marine Environment of Wales

Dr Richard Caddell

Since the mellifluous narration of Sir David Attenborough in Blue Planet II alerted millions of horrified viewers to the shocking ubiquity of plastic pollution in the global oceans, there has been a vociferous popular demand for regulators to tackle the rising tide of marine litter.

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04
May' 21
Impacts of Delay on the Environment Bill

Richard Honey KC

Alexis Norris

The Environment Bill is intended to replace some aspects of the EU environmental regulation structure and to set long-term, legally binding environmental targets to build a ‘fairer, greener, more resilient future’.[1].

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26
Apr' 21
Climate Law & Litigation in Ireland

Professor Áine Ryall

On 31 July 2020, a seven-judge Supreme Court delivered judgment in Friends of the Irish Environment CLG v Government of Ireland [2020] IESC 49.

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26
Apr' 21
We are delighted to be formally launching the FTB environmental law blog (ELB) today.

Esther Drabkin-Reiter, Jonathan Welch, Richard Honey KC, Ned Westaway, Merrow Golden, Conor Fegan

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