Environment in Scotland

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP brings deep expertise to the environmental law market, covering the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious work from regulatory advice and regulatory enforcement to project-based and transactional issues. Consequently, the team led by energy and infrastructure specialist Jennifer Ballantyne is an attractive partner for energy, infrastructure, waste management, housing and manufacturing sector clients. In the energy space, the team deals with renewable, nuclear and conventional energy projects, where it acts for utilities alongside national and international developers and, thanks to its solid planning offering, regularly handles matters at this particular intersection. This cross-disciplinary approach is matched, thanks to the firm's national and global footprint, with impressive cross-border and multijurisdictional capabilities. Gordon McCreath is another key member of the team and noted for his expertise in the energy, waste and water sectors.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Ballantyne

Other key lawyers:

Gordon McCreath


‘Pinsent Masons is a one-stop-shop – they have all the legal skills under one roof and allow clients to undertake work in different legal jurisdictions seamlessly. The entire team from partners to graduates are top quality, giving best legal advise rather than just reporting the legal position.’

‘They pull in various departments throughout complex deals rather than individuals trying to do everything which we have found with other legal practices.’

‘The team is very dynamic and will look for bespoke legal solutions for challenging issues. They are good at keeping the in-house legal team updated on matters.’

Key clients


Diamond Transmission Corporation


Scottish Environment Protection Agency

National Westminster Bank plc

Enva Scotland

Greencoat Capital LLP


Harworth Estates Investments Ltd

Kier Infrastructure

Environment Agency

Scottish & Southern Energy

Motor Fuel Group

Work highlights

  • Advised numerous clients on a range of Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats Regulations issues arising from the development of nationally significant and strategic projects, both on and offshore.
  • Representing the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in an appeal following its decision to refuse two conjoined environmental permitting applications.
  • Advising multinational oil & gas companies on the sale, purchase and operation of offshore and onshore oil and gas assets and environmental incident response and litigation.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

At Shepherd and Wedderburn, Scott McCallum assumed the role of practice head following Patricia Hawthorn becoming a consultant in May 2020. Both have a focus on environmental consenting, due diligence and compliance alongside matters at the intersection with planning. This interface expertise constitutes the team's key strength, leading to regular instructions from national and international developers alongside energy and waste disposal sector clients requiring assistance with the construction and operation of onshore and offshore wind, wave, tidal and energy from waste projects. Besides planning aspects, this typically includes environmental regulatory matters, nature conservation regulations and environmental impact assessments. Other work is transactional in nature with consenting, permitting and grid connection being regular features.

Practice head(s):

Scott McCallum

Other key lawyers:

Patricia Hawthorn; Colin Innes; Jamie Grant; Richard Leslie; Moray Thomson

Key clients

Simec Atlantis Energy/Simec Uskmouth Power Limited

Acciona Industrial S.A.

Copenhagen Infrastructure IV K/S

Scottish Power Renewables (UK) Ltd

Moray Offshore Windfarm (West) Ltd

Work highlights

  • Provided Simec Atlantis Energy/Simec Uskmouth Power Limited with support on planning and permitting matters pertaining to a project in Newport, Wales, which will see a coal fired power station built in 1959 converted to combust waste derived fuel pellets.
  • Advising Acciona Industrial SA on two proposed EfW facilities – at Westfield in Fife and Tees Eco Energy in Teesside.
  • Supporting Copenhagen Infrastructure IV K/S on the acquisition of the Dounreay Tri Floating Wind Demonstration Project and now working on the applications to vary the existing consents for phase 1 of the project and submit new applications for a larger array.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern is well equipped to handle a wide range of contentious and non-contentious environmental matters covering the energy, chemicals, waste, transport and marine sectors. Acting for private and public sector players, the former routinely instructs the team with matters arising from project developments, such as environmental impact assessments and environmental consents alongside associated regulatory and planning issues, while the latter has recently received assistance with climate change and net zero strategies as well as land and water contamination issues. Alastair McKie is a key contact for contentious environmental work and co-heads the practice with director Neil Amner, who regularly handles operational consents, waste, water and contaminated land issues.

Practice head(s):

Alastair McKie; Neil Amner

Other key lawyers:

Martin Whiteford


‘The team is very flexible in its approach and always available. I have recommended them on numerous occasions to my peers.’

‘Experts in their fields.

‘They all go above and beyond when required. I cant speak highly enough of them. ’

Key clients

Scottish Environment Protection Agency

Scottish Water

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority

The City of Edinburgh Council

Fife Council

Shetlands Island Council

Crown Estate Scotland

Queen’s & Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer

Buccleuch Estates

Dundas Estates


Chemring Energetics UK Ltd

Edinburgh Airport

Shetland Space Centre

Scottish Maritime Cluster

North Atlantic Fisheries College

Buchan Biogas

Bangley Quarry Biogas

Work highlights

  • Representative on the Scottish Government’s oversight board for the development of the updated National Transport Strategy (NTS2), which includes tackling climate change in its priorities.
  • Advising Shetland Space Centre Ltd (SSC) on the necessary consents for a vertical launch space port at Lamba Ness, Unst, Shetland, with first launch planned for 2022.
  • Advising Chemring Energetics UK Limited in relation to the existing area used for kinetic material (explosives) product testing and the necessary consents for the construction of a new facility its Ardeer site.

Brodies LLP

Taking a multidisciplinary approach, Brodies LLP is a regular fixture on large energy, infrastructure, waste management and regeneration projects, providing public sector clients, developers and energy suppliers with regulatory and transactional advice and assistance with various associated matters such as planning, public law and public procurement. Its transactional work spans environmental permit applications and transfers, environmental due diligence and negotiations with regulators, while handling contentious and enforcement work is another key area of expertise and includes risk and incident management. Recently, the team handled a number of water and land contamination claims alongside air pollution matters and associated HSE investigations. Team head Philip Hunter is noted for his wide-ranging environmental sector expertise.

Practice head(s):

Phil Hunter

Other key lawyers:

Neil Collar; Sarah-Jane McArthur; Paul Marshall


‘The team is excellent, very sharp and responsive.’

‘Phil Hunter is an excellent lawyer with a deep knowledge of his practice area and a passion for his work that shines through.’

‘Depth and breadth of expertise unrivalled.’

Key clients

Clyde Gateway Developments Limited

Orbital Marine Power

Scottish Environment Protection Agency


Scottish Enterprise

North Lanarkshire Council

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Falkirk Council

Midlothian Council

Perth and Kinross Council

Shetland Islands Council


Historic Environment Scotland

Work highlights

  • Advised Clyde Gateway on the UK Geoenergy Observatory project which involves borehole drilling for research into Glasgow’s geology, its underground water systems, and the potential for heat from water within the city’s disused coal mines.
  • Advised Aggreko on the extension of its manufacturing facility at Dumbarton and expansion to become a future energy hub, with detailed advice on soils handling, storage and soil movements at site.
  • Provided Falkirk Council with planning and environmental law advice on the application and the subsequent appeal for a waste recycling facility which was controversial with local residents.


With senior associate Joanna Waddell, a key contact for environmental enforcement, CMS has one of Scotland's few lawyers purely focused on environmental law. She is a key member of the team led by Robin Hutchison, who specialises in environmental regulation and planning-related matters with a particular focus on the energy and infrastructure sectors, while handling waste management and water sector work constitutes another key portion of its workload. In the non-contentious sphere, this typically includes advice on environmental impact assessments, environmental permits, habitats regulations appraisals, nature conservation obligations and waste law. Its expertise in pollution prevention and control alongside assisting with environmental due diligence exercises complements this offering which is regularly called upon by public and private sector clients alike.

Practice head(s):

Robin Hutchison; Joanna Waddell

Other key lawyers:

Mark McMurray


‘Commercial. High-quality advice given efficiently and on time. Rather than simply saying what the law says they explain what it means and will advise on strategy. This is rare for lawyers.’

Highly efficient, very competent, professional and commercial team.

‘We have always found the team to be approachable and flexible, which is much appreciated as our work programme is often affected by changing priorities.’

They have assisted us in navigating through some complex issues recently, providing calm reassurance and sage advice.

‘There is an excellent depth of knowledge of environmental legislation, both in wider terms and that relevant to our industry.’

The individuals we work with appear invested in the work, they work hard to ensure they have a complete understanding of issues. All individuals we work with are approachable and respond to queries promptly.

Key clients

Brockwell Energy

Cadent Gas

Curlew Property LP

EDF Energy

EDF Renewables

Epsotech UK Ltd


Green Investment Group

National Grid

North Lanarkshire Council

Northern Ireland Water

Orkney Islands Council

Red Rock Power

Renfrewshire Council

Repsol Sinopec

Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Water


SSE plc

Tarmac Trading Limited

Tarmac Limited

The Scottish Salmon Company Limited

Trump International Golf

University of Glasgow

Wind 2 Limited

Work highlights

  • Continues to advise the Scottish Salmon Company on a range of specialist matters across environmental law, EIA, Habitats and consenting which involve direct interaction with SEPA, NatureScot and Marine Scotland.
  • Long-time advisor to SSE; advised on a number of environmental matters in 2020 including conservation obligations regarding wild salmon.
  • Continue to advise Orkney Islands Council on the proposed designation by the Scottish Ministers of large areas of Orkney waters as Special Protection Areas under the Wild Birds Directive.

Davidson Chalmers Stewart

Davidson Chalmers Stewart is best known for its strength in waste management and recycling with chartered waste manager Laura Tainsh heading the team. This expertise translates into a steady flow of mandates from waste operators, public sector bodies, construction companies and commercial entities and includes the full contentious and non-contentious spectrum, such as regulatory matters, compliance, landfill tax and enforcement. With the arrival of Chala McKenna, who joined the group in July 2020 and was previously with the industry regulator SEPA, this offering has been expanded to include a wider range of water-related issues. Other recent work includes regulatory advice on air emissions, land contamination and quarrying operations.

Practice head(s):

Laura Tainsh

Other key lawyers:

Chala McKenna; Laura Irvine


‘Easy to deal with. All team members are very helpful. Their knowledge of environment law is very good.’

‘A very well regarded environmental team in Scotland, led by Laura Tainsh.’

‘Laura Tainsh is very well connected, with her finger on the pulse in the waste management sector. She is technically very capable but also very practical with real world experience.’

‘The team works well together, proving seamless support and advice.’

‘Individuals are eager to help, proactive to provide support and well informed.’

‘We work with Laura Tainsh, a partner in the practice. Laura has an unrivalled experience and knowledge of the Scottish waste and recycling industry, policy and regulation. Laura has provided excellent support to our team working on a major UK waste regulation project.’

Key clients

SAICA Natur UK Ltd

W H Malcolm Ltd.

SUEZ Group

Tartan Leisure Ltd

Pelagia (UK) Limited

Robertson Metals Recycling Ltd

Delson Demolition Ltd

Brewster Brothers Ltd

Resource Management Association Scotland (RMAS)

Straid Farms Ltd

Work highlights

  • Continues to advise Suez Group on an operational landfill gas facility which is operated by Viradis, including advice on various rights granted to neighbouring biogas schemes to utilise the export connection.
  • Advising Pelagia UK on the regulatory interpretation of existing and new regulation governing emissions to air from industrial processes in relation to the company’s fish processing operation at its plant in Aberdeen.
  • Providing W.H. Malcolm with regulatory and business advice on a range of environmental matters, often involving negotiation with the regulator; including advice on demonstrating financial provision in terms of the relevant environmental legislation, whether a contract to dispone a quarry had been concluded and the risks involved in signing a renunciation agreement for a licence to occupy a site to carry out remediation works when those works had not yet been completed.


As an integral part of Dentons' UK-wide practice, the team routinely acts with colleagues from its London office to advise on environmental liability and compliance alongside environmental matters associated with transactions as well as energy and transport projects. While much of its work stems from the oil, gas and manufacturing sectors, the team has niche expertise in producer responsibility and green claims, which is regularly called upon by retail sector clients. Real estate sector players have recently received assistance with energy efficiency and flood mitigation issues. Senior associate Pamela Coulthard is the main contact in Scotland and handles all aspects of environmental regulatory and enforcement.

Practice head(s):

Pamela Coulthard


‘They network with firms around the world and have the ability to find appropriate people to work on our matters across the firm.

‘They provide good clear legal advice and respond quickly.’

‘Pamela Coulthard is very good.’

Key clients

Amazon EU Sarl

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited

Total S.A

British Volt

Ministry of Defence

Perenco UK Limited

Portsmouth City Council

Telford Three Limited

M&G Real Estate

Canpack Group

Slip Holdings Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Total S.A. on the disposal of its last remaining UK refinery and associated assets.
  • Advised the Ministry of Defence on the approximately £10bn, 11-lot re-procurement of its maritime services contracts.
  • Advised Amazon on extended producer responsibility and product labelling issues.

Harper Macleod LLP

With public and administrative specialist Jennifer Jack, Harper Macleod LLP's practice has a strong contentious arm, acting for public and third sector clients in environmental-related judicial reviews, appeals and inquiries, including proceedings associated with planning. This particular intersection between environmental and planning is also a key feature of its non-contentious work, led by Peter Ferguson, which extends to environmental licensing and transactional matters. This attracts developer clients in particular, most notably in the energy space.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Jack; Peter Ferguson


‘We set Harper Macleod a demanding and unusual task within a very tight timescale. Not only did they rise to the challenge, but their advice and recommendations exceeded our expectations. I hugely appreciated their willingness to embrace our problem, provide coherent and comprehensive advice within a very challenging timescale. I have worked with many legal firms over my career but have but hugely impressed by the professionalism, wide ranging knowledge and culture of close client support employed by Harper Macleod. We enjoyed exceptional value for money when balancing the quality of advice received against the cost of that advice.’

‘Peter Ferguson has immense knowledge in his field and offers an exemplary quality of advice. He also took a proactive approach in offering advice in related crucial matters which I hadn’t considered. I hugely appreciated Peter’s approach, which was fundamental in resolving our problem. Peter retained an interest in the matter long after the conclusion of the work and provided me with ad hoc advice at no cost. This personal commitment is, in my experience, highly unusual, and was most beneficial. If I need advice in this field in future, I will certainly approach Peter exclusively given his exceptional quality of advice.’

Key clients

NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage)


Environmental Standards Scotland

Cairngorms National Park Authority

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Moray Council

City of Edinburgh Council

The Scottish Government (Marine Scotland)

Glasgow City Council

Scottish Forestry (formerly Forestry Commission Scotland)

Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

Fred Olsen Renewables


Aberdeen Standard Investments

Hillhouse Quarry Group

St Andrews University

Armstrong Waste Management

Lairg Wind Farm Limited

Octopus Energy


Maple Power Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing Greenpeace UK in a legal challenge to the UK Government’s grant of consent which allows BP and Ithaca Energy to produce oil and gas from the Vorlich field in the North Sea. The challenge is based on failure to undertake an adequate environmental impact assessment and failure by the UK Government to transpose an EU directive relating to environmental assessments into UK law.
  • Represented NatureScot at a virtual public hearing regarding an appeal against refusal by SEPA of an environmental consent for a proposed marine fish farm at Yinstay, Orkney. NatureScot had objected to the proposed development due to concerns that it would have an adverse effect on Scotland’s population of maerl (a priority marine feature).
  • Represented NatureScot at Scotland’s first fully virtual public local inquiry concerning a proposed windfarm development which NatureScot objected to on the basis of significant adverse impacts on nationally important sensitive habitats.

MacRoberts LLP

MacRoberts LLP is adept at handling environmental work at the real estate intersection, including water discharge, waste management and environmental liability issues, alongside transactional instructions, while the team is equally experienced in environmental disputes, including SEPA investigations. Senior associate Louise Gibson heads up the practice and has a focus on contaminated land, waste and operational permits alongside regulatory compliance. Clients include corporates and sole traders across various sectors.

Practice head(s):

Louise Gibson

Other key lawyers:

Martin Sales; John McGovern


‘Detailed knowledge of the relevant legislation but coupled with a working knowledge as to how to manage issues in practice.’

‘John McGovern provided sound, commercially focused and realistic advice in a potentially difficult situation.’

Key clients

The Scottish Salmon Company Limited

Breedon Northern Limited/Breedon Group plc

British Waterways

Douglas Laing & Co

Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC

The Dewan Foundation


Equitix Investment Management

Work highlights

  • Acted for Wm Morrison Supermarkets in the completion of the acquisition of a Waitrose supermarket and petrol filling station at Cardross Road, Helensburgh.
  • Advising British Waterways in relation to historic surface water and waste water discharges into their canals across their network of canals in Scotland.
  • Advised the Dewan Foundation, the owner of a portfolio of industrial and commercial properties throughout the UK, including an industrial park in Fife, on waste disposal issues.