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Freeths - Law firm

Environmental Law

Contributing to a greener future

What is involved?

Environmental obligations have increased significantly over recent years and are not limited to those whose activities carry an obvious risk of pollution. We deliver careful and practical strategies and advice in all areas of environmental law for our clients, allowing them to succeed in achieving their objectives as quickly, and with as few hurdles, as possible.

Our services cover all environmental issues. These include defending our clients when facing environmental regulatory action, providing compliance advice, advising on overcoming environmental constraints to planning applications, challenging decisions made by authorities, and bringing and defending civil claims.

Our clients include house builders and other developers, mineral operators, water companies, energy and manufacturing companies, local planning authorities and other public bodies, charitable and non-governmental organisations.

In the news: landmark environmental case

Freeths has won a landmark environmental case in Harris vs Environment Agency. The High Court has ruled that key European nature conservation laws remain enforceable against the Environment Agency (and by implication other public bodies) despite the UK having left the EU.

Read landmark case press release here >

Why choose Freeths?

  • Our team provides a full range of environmental law services
  • We have nationally recognised expertise in key areas, such as protected species and habitats, waste regulation and noise
  • Our team of environmental lawyers, based in our Leicester and Sheffield offices, range from partner to solicitor level (plus legal assistants) – which means that we work cost effectively

Our partners and senior lawyers are Magic Circle/national law firm-trained (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Slaughter & May, Eversheds)

Our areas of expertise:

Natural Capital: Advising developers, commercial operators, technical consultants and landowners on legal issues relating to the natural capital economy. Our expertise in this emerging market includes advising on the new Biodiversity Net Gain regime, nutrient neutrality and on water neutrality, to assist with compliance with various environmental regulatory or voluntary frameworks.

Natural Environment: securing protected species licences, obtaining planning and other regulatory consents when constrained by habitat/species protection. We’ve recently won a landmark environmental case in Harris vs Environment Agency. For more information please see our press release and supporting legal article.

Environmental Permits & Consents: advising on permit conditions, refusals/appeals

Waste Management & Permitting: advising on waste legislation across all sectors, from development to manufacturing; reuse and recycling of materials

Contaminated Land: including remediation responsibilities and apportionment of liabilities; regeneration and redevelopment of contaminated land

Criminal Defence: pollution and waste offences, non-compliance with environmental permitting requirements, wildlife crime

Abatement Notices and Nuisance Orders: noise, light, odour and other emissions

Environment & Planning: Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Habitats Regulations Assessment

Environmental law training courses: for environmental and planning professionals

Civil Litigation and Dispute Management: claims for damages and injunctions; claims for compensation following works on, or compulsory purchase of, land by bodies such as the Environment Agency, water or sewage undertakers

Judicial review of environmental decisions and appeal processes: such as appeals against abatement or enforcement notice

top tier 2023    Greener Litigation logo

Key contacts

Paul Brailsford

Paul Brailsford
Partner, National Head of Planning & Environment

0345 050 3676

Alternatively complete the form below:

Contact Us

Meet the team

Environmental Law Lawyers

Paul Brailsford

Paul Brailsford

0345 050 3676

Penny Simpson

Penny Simpson

0345 017 1133

Richard Broadbent

0345 030 5820

Ben Derrington

Ben Derrington

0345 030 5855

Environmental Law

Emma Conwell
Senior Associate

0345 073 8396

Helen Mitcheson profile photo

Helen Mitcheson

0345 077 9612

Related news
More related news, articles and events for Environmental Law

"I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the splendid work you did in securing our newt licence to the time scales required. I have no doubt we could not have achieved what we did without your help."

"As for the [Freeths LLP environmental law training] course, it was 11/10. Brilliant. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve insisted that my colleagues go on the next one, and you should too!"

“Their advice is always good value for money. It's the main reason we choose to use them..”

(Chambers & Partners, 2023)

"Outstanding level of knowledge on niche environmental topics."

(The Legal 500, 2023)

“We faced tight timeframes, and the team at Freeths responded brilliantly.” “Freeths has an exceptional grasp of complex issues.”

(Chambers & Partners, 2023)

“Freeths are extremely competent in their knowledge of environmental and waste issues, and are always available to support us when needed..”

(Chambers & Partners, 2023)

"Extremely good knowledge of environmental, waste and planning legislation - Spot on for advice and collaboration."

(The Legal 500, 2022)

"They stand out as they provide a unique quality service, their advice has been invaluable to me during setting up my business."

(The Legal 500, 2022)

"They are very pragmatic and respond to my needs excellently. They get to the point and deliver advice in a frank and straightforward way. They accept the challenge."

(The Legal 500, 2022)

"The advice is provided in an efficient and timely manner by friendly and professional staff."

(Chambers & Partners, 2022)

Notable Work
  • Penny, working together with a wider professional team for a large strategic land acquisition client, has succeeded in securing changes to proposed housing and environmental protection policies within the proposed Bradford Core Strategy. The changes were needed so as to protect the development potential of her client’s 500 unit site.
  • Emma successfully represented one of the largest businesses in the aggregate industry in proceedings in the Court of Appeal, following the Environment Agency’s refusal to grant a waste recovery permit for our client’s quarry. As a result of the litigation, the Environment Agency issued the environmental permit required by our client, reviewed its approach to determining such applications, and replaced the formal written guidance it had issued on the subject.
  • Penny devised and delivered a strategy for a large housebuilder client so as to persuade Natural England to issue a “test case” protected species (Great crested newt) licence, allowing the client to proceed with its development over the winter period without first having to trap and move the animals from the development site. This delivered for the client a significant time saving of nine months and of course the associated cost savings. This “test” case has led the way to Natural England becoming more flexible in its approach to the issue of protected species licences to developers.
  • Advising a client as to potential liabilities following investigations into possible ground and water contamination at sites in the south of England. Emma worked with the client and environmental consultants to successfully manage risks associated with environmental damage and to avoid enforcement action.
  • Penny has advised one of the largest UK conservation charities on its approach to habitat restoration of large areas of redundant land, using waste materials taken from other large infrastructure projects disposing of these materials. The use of such materials is highly regulated through the EU Waste Directive and requires an environmental permit from the Environment Agency. However Penny and her team have identified an approach which allows lawful use of the materials to create new habitats with the least onerous form of environmental permit.
  • Emma has successfully appealed many Noise Abatement Notices for a range of clients including a nationwide provider of all-weather multisport pitches and a key player in the British and International motor industry. Emma has also successfully represented clients in private prosecutions for alleged statutory nuisance, with cases ranging from manufacturing industries to dog kennels.

Client service

‘Doing the right thing’ is at the heart of Freeths. Find out more about our excellent client service and the strong set of values that guide the way we work.

Our values


Talk to us

Freeths are a leading national law firm with 12 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

Contact: 03301 001 014

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