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Work 028 9024 4951
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Gary McGhee

Work 028 9024 4951
Carson McDowell

Work Department

Commercial property.


Specialist areas of practice – planning and environmental law. Types of work undertaken include: the co-ordination of major planning applications for commercial clients; representation of clients at planning and enforcement appeals; instigation/defence of judicial reviews of planning decisions. Mr McGhee is currently involved in a series of judicial reviews on behalf of commercial clients, challenging and defending decisions of the Department of the Environment. His clients include Tesco Stores plc, the Port of Belfast, Belfast International Airport, Northern Ireland Electricity and House of Fraser.


Trained Carson McDowell; qualified 1996; assistant solicitor 1996-2001; associate solicitor 2001-04; partner 2004 to date.


Environmental and Planning Law Association of Northern Ireland; UK Environmental Law Association; and Associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute.


Queens University, Belfast (1994 LLB Law).

Northern Ireland: Projects, energy and natural resources


Within: Energy

Carson McDowell’s ‘excellent’ energy practice is very well known for handling a broad spectrum of energy-related matters for a number of Northern Ireland’s leading energy players. The group is noted for its expertise in mandates relating to renewable energy, electricity and gas, and represents clients in acquisitions, transactions and the developmental aspects of energy projects. In recent highlights, the ‘very responsive’ team acted for AES UK & Ireland in the sale of Cloghan Point Oil Terminal to energy company LCC Group, and assisted Air Core with refinancing nine separate wind turbine sites. In a different matter, the practice advised Vinci Energies on its acquisition of electrical engineering company Meldrum, which supplies electricity to nuclear sites. SONI is another key client for the firm. M&A and financing expert Neasa Quigley leads the team, which includes the ‘commercially astute’ energy planning expert Gary McGhee and Dawson McConkey, who uses his ‘vast and detailed knowledge of Northern Ireland land law’ to handle the real estate aspects of renewable energy projects.

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Northern Ireland: Real estate

Planning and environment

Within: Leading individuals

Gary McGhee - Carson McDowell

Within: Planning and environment

Carson McDowell’s planning team ‘combines unparalleled expertise with an unsurpassed ability to deliver’, according to clients. The ‘client-focused, responsive and commercially aware’ group is very active in the infrastructure and energy sectors; recent work includes handling planning applications and judicial reviews as well as obtaining regulatory approvals for electricity pylon applications, site redevelopment for educational facilities, exploratory drilling, and road construction. In a key matter, the team represented SONI, Northern Ireland’s electricity transmission system operator, in a successful planning application for a multimillion-pound project consisting of 100 electricity pylons and a new substation to connect the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In another mandate, the group is acting for Galantas in a judicial review challenge brought against a planning application granted to the company authorising the extension of its gold mine in Omagh; the case is being heard at the Court of Appeal. On the non-contentious side, the team is advising Lake Torrent on a planning application for a £30m motor racing circuit in County Tyrone. The ‘extremely knowledgeable and experiencedGary McGhee leads the department; he attracts praise for his ‘ability to cut through complexity and deliver clean and practical advice’. Associate Sarah Dunlop , who is ‘really hard-working and extremely personable’, is also recommended. Grant McBurney made partner in June 2017.

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