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Planning and environment in Northern Ireland

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell has 'unrivalled strength in providing planning and environment advice in NI', and the team is described as having 'set itself apart in the planning litigation sphere'. Practice head Gary McGhee has a primary focus on planning and environmental law, with extensive experience in planning applications, appeals and inquiries. Grant McBurney is another key name and is particularly strong in on waste and contaminated land matters. Associate Sarah Dunlop is also highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Gary McGhee


‘This practice has unrivalled strength in providing legal planning and environment advice in NI. All the lawyers we have used in this practice are extremely professional and have an exceptional level of expertise.’

‘The practice has set itself apart in the planning litigation sphere in Northern Ireland – particularly in the quarrying and minerals sector. Their knowledge and expertise have brought great insight into our cases.’

‘Our partner at the firm has been a breath of fresh air. Their associates are always helpful and available whenever he is not and their levels of knowledge and competence are of a very high standard.’

Key clients

John Hogg Operational Limited

Odyssey Trust

Northern Ireland Electricity Networks

Ards & North Down Borough Council

Nutts Corner Circuit Limited

Southern Regional College


Lough Neagh Sand Traders

Port of Belfast

Belfast International Airport

Work highlights

  • Advising John Hogg Operational on all aspects of planning and environmental law relating to an application for a Game of Thrones Studio Tour attraction at the Linen Mill Studios near Banbridge, County Down.
  • Advised on a planning application for a major mixed use development on lands adjacent to the SSE Arena in Belfast.
  • Advising Northern Ireland Electricity Networks in relation to its proposed Curraghinalt 33kV connection project.

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody has 'the ability to pull together various levels of expertise in a quick manner' for both planning and environment matters, acting for a range of public and private sector clients. Micaela Diver leads the firm's public and regulatory team, which covers related areas such as procurement, state aid and competition law. She is supported by associate Deirdre St John, who is 'very down to earth, with a great knowledge of planning and environmental law'.

Practice head(s):

Micaela Diver

Other key lawyers:

Deirdre St John


‘The ability to pull together various levels of expertise in a quick manner, and they have access to various levels of expertise spanning a range of sectors and specialisms.’

‘In the industry that I work in, we sometimes need advice on planning and/or environmental matters, sometimes both, and the team has the capacity to pull that expertise together quickly, allowing us to move at a pace which is requested of us by our ever demanding client base. ‘

‘Deirdre St John quite simply ‘gets it’ – sometimes I need someone on the other end of the phone to provide me with the advice I need. With Deirdre this process is simple. She understands the environment we work in, the demands we are under and the need for clear and coherent advice. Furthermore she understands that, particularly in planning, a wider strategy needs to be employed. Its not always about a short-term fix, sometimes a decision today can have a lasting impact.’

‘Deirdre St John is very down to earth, easily accessible but with a great knowledge of planning and environmental law.’

Key clients

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council


CD Consulting

Cordic Consulting



Leecroft Limited

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council

NMC Haulage

Metcollect Limited

Northern Ireland Co-Ownership Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Advised Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council on planning applications.
  • Advising Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council on taking action against an individual concerning unauthorised buildings and unauthorised change of use.
  • Advising CD Consulting, a planning and environmental consultancy based in Fermanagh, on various planning and environmental matters on behalf of their clients.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

The 'very professional and knowledgeable' team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin, which is noted for its expertise on judicial reviews, represents a range of major local names such as Belfast City Airport and Translink. Firm chairman Karen Blair has 'a cool and calm nature' and has advised on a wealth of major developments in the area, particularly in areas such as mining, aviation and tourism. Associate director Brendan Martyn is also a key name and advises Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council on planning and public law matters.

Practice head(s):

Karen Blair

Other key lawyers:

Brendan Martyn


‘There is a wealth of knowledge under one roof.’

‘Karen Blair’s cool and calm nature soothes even the hardest of situations.’

‘Very professional and knowledgeable. Quick response times. Very diligent.’

Key clients

Dalradian Gold

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council

Choice Housing Ireland

Assured Energy

Belfast City Airport

C&V Developments

Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council

Bushmills Hotels Limited

Kellys Sand & Gravel Limited


C & V Developments

Don Holdings

Work highlights

  • Advising Dalradian Gold Limited on all consenting and operational aspects of its proposed gold mine development in Co Tyrone.
  • Advising Assured Energy LLP in relation two highly controversial anaerobic digestion sites which have attracted enforcement notices and abatement notices from two local councils.
  • Advising Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council on the defence of an unprecedented number of concurrent judicial reviews in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.


TLT's planning and environment team operates under the leadership of Andrew Ryan, who demonstrates particular strength on renewable energy projects, particularly relating to environmental impact and habitats regulations assessments. Also recommended is real estate lawyer Judith Allen, who has a record of work on planning issues surrounding property developments.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Ryan 

Other key lawyers:

Judith Allen

Key clients


No Arc

The Lotus Group

GRG Concerned Community Ltd

Cloghan Point Holdings Limited / LCC


Hyde Air Park

EP UK Investments

SSE Renewables

Brookfield Renewables

Work highlights

  • Advising a number of high net worth local residents on objections to a major gold mine and ore processing facility proposal in Omagh.
  • Advising ABO on its planning application for a major wind farm in the Mourne Mountains.
  • Advising the operator of a major airport car parking facility serving Belfast International Airport in relation to ongoing planning relating to the operation and expansion of the car parking business.


The team at Tughans is led by Maria O’Loan, who handles commercial planning and environment transactions, advising on local developments as well as projects across the UK and Ireland. She is now working as a consultant, and is supported by director Naomi Cooper and associate director Emma-Rose Rooney, who are both experienced in planning and environment litigation.

Practice head(s):

Maria O’Loan

Other key lawyers:

Naomi Cooper; Emma-Rose Rooney


‘Maria O’Loan responds very quickly to emails and phone calls, even when not in the office, and is very easy to talk to.’

‘I completely trust Maria O’Loan’s judgement as she has fully explained why certain actions are taken and at what stage they are appropriate. I cannot recommend her highly enough.’

Key clients

Ulster Council of the GAA

NI Water

Vanden Recycling

Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners

System Operator of Northern Ireland

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council



Foyle Foods

Heron Bros Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Translink in respect of the planning and environmental aspects of the redevelopment of a major city centre site to deliver an integrated transport hub for Belfast.
  • Advising the UCGAA in respect of the planning and environmental aspects of the redevelopment of the Casement Park Stadium.
  • Advised Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council in respect of an application for planning permission by INTU Properties Limited for the redevelopment of the Sprucefield Two Site.