Environment in Scotland

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP has energy, infrastructure, housing and manufacturing sector work at its core and covers the gamut of environmental law, from regulatory matters alongside projects and transactional work to litigation and regulatory enforcement as well as carbon and energy efficiency mandates. Practice head Jennifer Ballantyne has particular expertise in contaminated land, waste management, environmental permitting, minerals and renewable energy work, while Gordon McCreath is well versed in the energy, waste and water sectors, handling contentious and non-contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Ballantyne

Other key lawyers:

Gordon McCreath


The team has unique experience of projects throughout Scotland that can be brought to bear on your project. They are also very good at integrating with a wider team of consultants and convey the legal implications without the legalese.

I have found the team more pragmatic than other firms about what “risk” means and how to assess it. This has enabled us to come to a commercial view quicker and reduces the time spent negotiating/ debating enabling us to move forward quickly.

Key clients


Diamond Transmission Corporation Limited (DTC)

Keepmoat Homes Limited

National Westminster Bank plc

Greencoat Capital LLP

Enva Scotland

Patersons of Greenoakhill

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Work highlights

  • As E.ON’s sole environmental legal advisor in the UK, the team has recently advised the client on environmental incident response, an appeal to the Upper Tier Tribunal of an information notice under Environmental Information Regulations, and on a number of EIA submissions for various renewable energy projects.
  • Advised Keepmoat Homes Limited on the allocation of environmental liability in Scottish and English land acquisition transactions.
  • Provides regular advice to mineral operators and landowners, such as Kier Minerals Limited, Harworth Estates, Sirius Minerals Plc, Patersons of Greenoakhill and Wemyss 1952 Trust, on a diverse range of environmental matters in connection with quarry and colliery operations.
  • Advised a consortium of funders on the environmental and consenting aspects of the financing of a portfolio of 11 hydro projects in Scotland.
  • Assisting Enva Scotland with its application to SEPA for End of Waste status for air pollution control residues (APCr) and fly ash to be used in construction products.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn has carved out a strong practice advising national and international project developers on various matters affecting their projects and investments, most notably in the energy sector, where clients also benefit from the team's cooperation with regulators and other shareholders. Equally beneficial for clients is the firm's litigation and energy regulation expertise, which includes judicial reviews and criminal investigations. Alongside its energy sector work, and renewable energy in particular, the team has also been active in the aquaculture and fish farming industries. Other areas of expertise include distilleries, waste, quarries and ports. Patricia Hawthorn heads the practice and specialises in non-contentious planning and environmental consenting, environmental due diligence and environmental compliance and regulatory work.

Practice head(s):

Patricia Hawthorn

Key clients

Acciona Industrial S.A.

Simec Atlantis Energy Limited

Hillhouse Capital Management Limited

SP Transmission plc

Moray Offshore Windfarm (West) Limited

Neart na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Acciona Industrial S.A. on the NESS energy project, an energy-to-waste plant in Aberdeenshire, following the client’s appointment to the 20-year contract to design, construct, commission, operate and maintain the facility.
  • Advising Simec Atlantis Energy Limited on a power station conversion project, which involves the conversion of the 363MW coal-fired Uskmouth generating station to an approximately 220MW generating station fuelled by pellets.
  • Assisted Hillhouse Capital Management Limited with its acquisition of the Loch Lomond Group and associated environmental and planning matters. The group’s assets include distilleries, bottling plants and bonded warehouses within Scotland.
  • Acted for SP Transmission plc in planning and environmental matters pertaining to the proposed Crystal Rig 400kV substation extension.
  • Advising SP Transmission plc on environmental and consenting matters pertaining to the proposed Kendoon to Tongland 132kV electricity transmission reinforcement project, a development included in Scotland’s National Planning Framework 3 as national development.

Anderson Strathern

The team at Anderson Strathern has a strong profile advising landowners, but its client portfolio also includes operators, funders, commercial developers and public bodies. It covers a a wide range of contentious and non-contentious environmental law with particular expertise in energy, waste, transport and marine-related work. Practice co-head Alastair McKie is a key contact for contentious environmental matters, while co-head Neil Amner has particular expertise in operational consents, waste, water and contaminated land issues.

Practice head(s):

Alastair McKie; Neil Amner

Other key lawyers:

Martin Whiteford


The team is strong across the board. Despite not being as well known as other notable Scots firms (at least, not south of the border), they have a full-service practice which has been more than capable of meeting my needs – often providing much better value for money in the process.

Neil Amner is knowledgeable in environmental and transport matters. He is responsive and engaged, with the ability to think outside the box and identify other relevant interests.

Key clients

Buccleuch Estates

Dundas Estates


The City of Edinburgh Council

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Livos Energy

Buchan Biogas

Scottish Water

Ross Estates Company

Pow of Inchaffray Drainage Commission

Shetland College / NAFC Marine

The Crown Estate Scotland

Vento Ludens

Hydro Ludens

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority

Edinburgh Airport Limited

Chemring Energetics UK Ltd

Bangley Quarry Biogas Limited (Green Forty Development Limited)

Thöni Industriebetriebe Gmbh

Work highlights

  • Advising INEOS on an investment programme in the Grangemouth petrochemical complex, including associated environmental, planning and construction law matters.
  • Assisted the Crown Estate Scotland with all legal documentation, including the project financial close, pertaining to the consented Neart Na Gaoithe and the Moray East wind projects off the Scottish coast developed by EDF Renewables and EDPR respectively.
  • Advised the Pow of Inchaffray Drainage Commission on securing statutory powers through a Private Bill in the Scottish Parliament to repair and improve a 13-mile drainage ditch in Perthshire.
  • Advising the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce on the Circular Glasgow programme, Low Emission Zone and Glasgow Connectivity Commission.
  • Advising Bangley Quarry Biogas Limited (Green Forty Development Limited) on all aspects, including environmental consents, of the development of a major biogas Gas to Grid project in East Lothian.

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP's strength lies in dealing with matters at the intersection of environmental and planning law alongside contaminated land, energy and waste matters. The team is also well placed to provide corporate and commercial support, including assistance with environmental risk assessments and environmental liabilities - both of which are part of practice head Phil Hunter's set of expertise -, alongside environmental permits, lease renewals and regulatory matters. It acts for clients across a range of industries but is best known for its public and energy sector clients, who also benefit from Hunter's experience in environmental warranties and indemnities. Other areas of expertise include compliance and enforcement issues.

Practice head(s):

Phil Hunter

Other key lawyers:

Paul Marshall; Neil Collar


Constructive approach aimed at achieving solutions. Very helpful and knowledgeable. Realistic price/quality-offering compared to their competitors, but this business is all about people.

Their approach is based on experience and “real arguments”. They try to make things work!

Very competent and experienced team.

The environment and planning team takes a unique approach to dealing with environmental issues bringing a healthy mixture of innovation and practical implementation.

Phil Hunter is a skilled, smart and talented environmental lawyer who has his finger on the pulse of environmental law in Scotland. He has been involved heavily in shaping the UKELA responses to Scottish government consultations and has a way of getting things done and cutting to the heart of things.

Key clients

Clyde Gateway Developments Limited

Spirit Energy

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Great Century

Scottish Enterprise

North Lanarkshire Council

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Abellio ScotRail

Shetland Islands Council

Historic Environment Scotland

Work highlights

  • Providing strategic advice to Clyde Gateway Developments Limited on the environmental remediation of contaminated land.
  • Acted for a Scottish housing association in defence against a class action by tenants and former tenants relating to exposure to contaminated land.
  • Provided a legal opinion to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) on permitted development in relation to the Water Environment Fund.


CMS has been particularly active dealing with environmental enforcement, environmental impact assessments, waste issues, nuisance claims, PPC permitting and marine consenting work. Senior associate Joanna Waddell is a key contact for the first-mentioned segment. She jointly heads the practice with planning and environment lawyer Robin Hutchison, who is frequently called upon to advise on environmental law matters pertaining to major projects, as well as to carry out environmental due diligence on corporate and real estate transactions. Its national and international client base includes several key players from the waste management, energy, oil, water and chemicals sectors.

Key clients

Brockwell Energy

Cadent Gas

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

The Scottish Salmon Company Limited

Trump International Golf

University of Glasgow

Wind 2 Limited

Work highlights

  • Continued advice to the Scottish Salmon Company Limited on environment, planning and regulatory matters.
  • Advised long-standing client University of Glasgow on permitting issues under the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012.
  • Advising Epsotech UK Ltd on the implications of odour and noise from its factory on a proposed neighbouring development.
  • Advising Orkney Islands Council on the Scottish Government’s proposed designation of a large area of Orkney’s waters as Special Protection Areas under the Wild Birds Directive.
  • Advising SSE plc on environmental law matters associated with a number of its projects.

Davidson Chalmers Stewart

With Laura Tainsh in the lead, Davidson Chalmers Stewart's environment practice is particularly rated for its strength in waste management, acting for landfill operators and commercial entities, but it is also well equipped to guide clients from other sectors, including the public sector, through various other environmental and regulatory issues such as permitting, compliance and enforcement. As a noteworthy niche, the team has experience in handling instructions on quarrying operations and the development of former quarry sites.

Practice head(s):

Laura Tainsh

Other key lawyers:

Laura Irvine


‘Very approachable and down to earth – they always advise with a commercial mindset to meet their client’s goals.’

‘Very well connected in the Scottish environmental market, fully engaged in the issues and opportunities facing the waste management sector in particular, and an industry advocate in this regard.’

‘I’ve found the practice to be well versed on all technical matters and details of waste and environmental regulation.’

‘They have a good understanding of the environmental situation relating to legal compliance and how this affects industry.’

‘Straight-talking and not afraid to challenge authorities.’

‘I have established a close working relationship with Laura Tainsh over the years. Not only is she very knowledgeable in her field, she is also a strong ambassador for the wider sector, offering her time and expertise to many different events.’

‘Laura Tainsh has a breadth of knowledge and industry-wide understanding of key issues as well as legal matters, and can provide frank and straightforward advice.’

Key clients

SAICA Natur UK Ltd.

W.H. Malcolm Ltd.

Suez Group


Tartan Leisure Limited

Pelagia UK

Perth and Kinross Council

Brewster Bros. Ltd

Resource Management Association Scotland

The British Millerain Company Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Tartan Leisure Limited on the development of an inland, artificial surf wavegarden with associated leisure and accommodation facilities in an old quarry in West Lothian, including a number of corporate, property, planning, environmental and construction issues.
  • Advising the fish products producer Pelagia UK on air emission matters.
  • Advised Perth and Kinross Council on the purchase of the commercial recycling arm of an existing commercial entity.
  • Advising Topolytics on waste transfer matters arising from the development of electronic tracking of waste.
  • Continued advice to the British Millerain Company Limited on environmental matters pertaining to an environmentally sensitive and potentially contaminated site in Dundee.


Embedded in the firm's UK-wide environment practice, Dentons' Scotland team is headed by senior associate Pamela Coulthard, who covers the full range of environmental law with a specialism in regulatory issues surrounding oil and gas decommissioning, onshore fracturing, contaminated land and environmental insurance. Lately, the practice has been particularly active in the retail, oil and gas and government sectors but it also handles work for national and international clients from other sectors. Alongside its traditionally strong corporate and real estate support work, the practice has been able to increase its stand-alone work, including instructions pertaining to oil and gas, environmental liability, compliance, producer responsibility, energy efficiency and waste matters.

Practice head(s):

Pamela Coulthard

Key clients

Amazon EU Sarl

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited

Total S.A

Sports Direct PLC

European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF)

Royal Mail Group

The Edrington Group

Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG

Peel L&P Gas and Oil

Highland Distillers Limited

Slip Holdings Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Amazon EU Sarl on its extended producer responsibility (EPR) obligations and risk analysis across 31 European jurisdictions, and also assisted the client with eco-labelling and evaluating the risk of liability for goods under a trade mark that carries eco-credentials.
  • Advised Network Rail Infrastructure Limited on the application of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the Assessment of Energy Performance (AEP) regimes to its national portfolio of stations and depots.
  • Advised Swiss Pillar Investments AG on its acquisition of the landmark and prime office asset Exchange Plaza in Edinburgh from The Lister Property Partnership, the investment arm of the Murray Capital Group, which included various energy efficiency matters.
  • Advised long-standing client Highland Distillers Limited (HDL) on the competitive auction sale of Scotland’s oldest working distillery, the Glenturret Distillery, to to Art & Terroir SA, including environmental permitting and environmental liability matters.
  • Advised Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG on the possible establishment of a new recycling and deposit return scheme for beverage containers.

MacRoberts LLP

Senior associate Louise Gibson heads up the team at MacRoberts LLP, which has a focus on contaminated land, waste and operational permits, assisting clients across various industries - such as construction, energy, waste management, transport, water and food and drink - with operational and compliance matters alongside environmental-related disputes and regulatory investigations. In energy sector work,the team is particularly well versed in handling matters pertaining to energy from waste businesses and biogas plants.

Practice head(s):

Louise Gibson

Other key lawyers:

John McGovern; Martin Sales

Key clients

The Scottish Salmon Company Limited

Scottish Canals

Scottish Government (Scottish Ministers)

Breedon Northern Limited/Breedon Group plc

Douglas Laing & Co.

Energen Biogas Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the Scottish Government (Scottish Ministers) on the impacts of Healthcare Environmental Services Limited (HES) entering into insolvency and associated waste disposal issues.
  • Advising a nationwide commercial landlord on waste management licence exemptions breached by the client’s tenant.
  • Defending Renewi/ Energen in Court of Session proceedings pertaining to contaminated land.
  • Advising Scottish Canals on historic surface water and waste water discharges into its canals across its network of canals in Scotland.
  • Advised Douglas Laing & Co. on its acquisition of Strathearn Distillery, including associated environmental and real estate matters.

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP's strength lies in dealing with planning-related environmental law matters, which are frequently contentious in nature and often pertain to controversial developments across Scotland. This part of the practice is led by Jennifer Jack, whereas team co-head Peter Ferguson focuses on non-contentious work and is well versed in representing public sector clients in public planning inquiries. The team also works in close conjunction with its energy, real estate, banking and corporate groups, resulting in a steady stream of instructions at these intersections.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Jack; Peter Ferguson

Key clients

Scottish Natural Heritage

Historic Environment Scotland

Cairngorms National Park Authority

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Moray Council No

The City of Edinburgh Council

Marine Scotland

Glasgow City Council

Scottish Forestry

Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS)

Fred. Olsen Renewables


Hillhouse Quarry Group

University of St Andrews

Lairg Wind Farm Limited


Work highlights

  • Represented Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in a public local inquiry for the proposed Coul Links golf course, which raised issues of national and international environmental importance.
  • Representing Greenpeace UK, Greenpeace International and Greenpeace Netherlands in their defence of actions for interdict brought in the Court of Session by Shell, BP and Transocean Drilling following protests on oil rigs. The cases raise important principles regarding the balance between rights to freedom of expression and protest in the context of the climate emergency, against the property rights of the oil companies.
  • Successfully represented Scottish Forestry (previously Forestry Commission Scotland) in an appeal under the Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 2017 following an unauthorised deforestation operation at Carrbridge, within the Cairngorms National Park.
  • Advising Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) on animal welfare matters pertaining to a proposed dualling of the A9 trunk road, and representing the client in an objection to this project.