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Home > Areas of law > Environmental and planning law

Environmental and planning law

Garden Court has considerable expertise in domestic and international planning and environmental law. Our practice team in these areas of law is led by Joint Head of Chambers, Marc Willers QC.

Garden Court often represents individuals and groups seeking to pursue Judicial Review of environmental and planning decisions taken by public bodies. Our barristers have appeared in many high-profile cases and public inquiries.

Our casework regularly crosses over with criminal and regulatory law. For example, our barristers have considerable experience defending environmental protesters in criminal proceedings, including anti-fracking and anti-GM crop protesters, the ‘Heathrow 13’ and G20 Climate Camp protesters. We have also represented protesters in possession proceedings including the Occupy protests and recent anti-fracking protests. Members of chambers authored the key text in this area, The Protest Handbook.

A number of Garden Court barristers are members of the Planning and Environmental Bar Association.

If you would like to instruct any of our environmental and planning law barristers, please or call us on 020 7993 7600.

Environmental Law

We can provide expert litigation advice and representation, covering all aspects of environmental law.

Our environmental law barristers regularly work with grassroots campaigners, high-profile charities, NGOs and aggrieved individuals to provide advice on environmental issues, including nature conservation, open spaces, habitats, sustainability, climate change, emissions and energy supply such as shale gas extraction or ‘fracking’. We also have expertise in marine ecology and marine conservation, surfers’ rights and mineral extraction.

At the heart of our work is the protection of public health, communities and habitats.

Our barristers have represented clients at statutory and private nuisance actions, complex multi-party actions, and a number of public inquiries.

Garden Court’s commitment to the protection of the environment is long-standing. We have been instructed to advise on environmental law challenges to decisions granting planning permission for fracking operations and the government’s climate change policies and we have represented anti-fracking campaigners in a High Court challenge against the decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to grant Cuadrilla planning permission for fracking at a site in Lancashire.

We have worked on high-profile matters including the THORP reprocessing plant inquiry and the NIREX nuclear waste dump inquiry. More recently, we have advised on challenging planning permission for fracking and worked on the Balcombe fracking case.

Significant international work has included cases concerning land rights, corporate responsibility, oil exploration and drilling. Our barrister, Richard Harvey, is currently a consultant to Greenpeace International, assisting them carry out their environmental mission around the world.

Richard Reynolds has worked with the Legal Response Initiative to advise developing nations and charities on the UN Climate Change negotiations and the enforcement of the resulting Paris Agreement.

Garden Court is a member of the Environmental Law Foundation.

Planning Law

Our planning law barristers have extensive experience across a range of planning issues including low-impact development, nature conservation, town and country planning, community challenges to local and central government planning decisions, neighbourhood planning and infrastructure, regulatory challenges and commercial planning schemes.

Garden Court barristers have represented developers seeking permission for housing, marinas, waste management sites, agricultural development, equestrian centres, markets, garden centres and mobile home parks. We have also represented community and interest groups concerned with environmental and heritage protection and also objectors to development plans.

Our high-profile cases include challenging the:

  • Stationing of high velocity missiles on top of a residential tower block in East London. These missiles were planned as part of security measures for the 2012 Olympics
  • Compulsory purchase order made in relation to the London Olympics site
  • Grant of planning permission to QPR FC for the development of Warren Farm in West London
  • Redevelopment of Woodford aerodrome into a large housing scheme

Team members regularly undertake planning and enforcement notice appeals before the Planning Inspectorate, as well as those relating to compulsory purchase orders. Members have considerable experience of appearing in enforcement proceedings in both criminal and civil courts and in challenging planning and enforcement appeal decisions in the Planning Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Our barristers are renowned for their expertise in representing Roma, Gypsies and Travellers seeking planning permission for caravan sites and we regularly challenge enforcement action taken against them. We represented the Irish Travellers living on Dale Farm in their high-profile judicial review challenge of the decision taken by Basildon Borough Council to use its direct action powers to evict them from their homes.

Members of the team are recommended for planning law in the Chambers UK Bar Guide and the Legal 500 Bar rankings. We are particularly noted in these guides for bringing a wealth of experience in complementary areas such as housing law and policy, discrimination law and human rights.

Funding your case

Given some of the difficulties in obtaining legal aid for these cases, we do our best to work with other funding arrangements, including ‘no win, no fee’ agreements where appropriate, fixed fees for some matters and crowd funding.

In some cases legal action to protect the environment is protected by the Aarhus Convention, which limits the amount a claimant would have to pay a defendant if the claim is unsuccessful. The limit is £5,000 for individual claimants and £10,000 for group claimants. The Aarhus regime also imposes a cap of £35,000 to limit the amount a successful claimant can claim from a public body.

Meet the team

To find out more about our Environmental and Planning Team visit our barrister profile page.

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