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Environmental and planning litigation service

If you are unhappy about development proposals that could harm your local environment, we can help you use the law to make your voice heard. Leigh Day is widely regarded as one of the leading law firms specialising in claimant environmental work. Our "ground-breaking work" and “commitment to ensuring justice for clients” earn us rankings in the top band for environmental work (Chambers & Partners) and as a first-tier firm for public law cases (Legal 500) in the legal directories.

Because of our particular commitment to this area of work, we have set up the Environmental and Planning Litigation Service (EPLS).  The EPLS aims to support individuals and groups in taking environmental cases against public bodies, either through a process known as judicial review or appeals against statutory bodies such as appeals under the Town and Country Planning Acts.

Environmental cases can cover a wide range of issues including:
  • Energy proposals, such as oil and gas exploration (on land and at sea), fracking and inappropriately sited wind farms and waste incinerators. The team:
    • currently represents the local community at Balcombe in a challenge to planning permission for exploratory drilling (a hearing is expected in Autumn 2014) and protesters opposing fracking proposals at Barton Moss in Lancashire.

    • currently represents Irish charity An Taisce in a challenge to the decision to build and operate another nuclear power station, Hinckley C on the Bristol Channel.

    • Acted for Cornwall Waste Forum in its challenge to stop a waste incinerator adjacent to three Special Areas of Conservation at St Dennis in Cornwall.  

  • Transport proposals, such as road building and widening, airport expansions and railway construction. The team:
    • successfully represented the HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) in challenging the Government’s failure to compensate people for housing blight along the proposed route of HS2;
    • acts for a community group challenging the County Council’s proposal to build a dual carriageway through sensitive countryside at Torrishome in Lancashire;
    • represented residents in Dibden Bay, who helped stop the development of a huge new port on the coast of the New Forest;
    • continues to represent Stop Stansted Expansion which strives to prevent unsustainable expansion of the Airport.
  • Housing and retail proposals, including out of town developments and intrusions into the Green Belt.  The team:
    • successfully overturned planning permission for 500 houses on a greenfield site in Bicester on behalf of a local environmentalist;
    • acts for Save our Parkland Appeal Limited in its challenge to the building of up to 400 houses on Cloakham Lawns outside Axminster;
    • represents Get Involved Exminster in its case to stop construction of 65 houses close to Special Protected Areas and SSSIs in the estuary of the River Exe. 
  • Impacts on wildlife and natural habitats. The team successfully represented WWF-UK and the Avon Wildlife Trust in the European Court in a case concerning the boundary of a protected area under EU law. In another case, the Team represented WWF in challenging unsustainable quotas for cod fishing set by the European Council.

Environmental judicial reviews are treated differently to other judicial reviews. The UK is a Party to the Aarhus Convention, which requires it to make special provision for environmental cases, particularly when it comes to legal costs. Unsuccessful claimants are only required to pay a proportion of the defendants’ legal costs (as opposed to most or all of them in other cases) and the courts must provide swift injunctive relief in order to protect the environment.

The EPLS team has extensive experience of judicial review and environmental issues, including the planning system and wildlife conservation. On contacting the EPLS, your case will be assessed by the team and our partner expert barristers at Landmark Chambers and Matrix. The team will then discuss your case and funding options with you.

If you would like us to investigate whether you can challenge a development proposal, please fill in our New Client Enquiry form.

Presentation - 9 January 2014

Slides below from the half day workshop on 9th January 2014 covering Environmental Judicial Review and related appeals in England and Wales:

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