Environment in South West

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP's specialist environment team has a first-rate reputation for advising clients on particularly complex regulatory issues. Clients turn to the firm for assistance with challenging matters involving regulators, such as the refusal of permits, litigation, prosecutions and other challenges. In addition to advising large regional and national clients, the firm also generates mandates from global organisations. The ‘experiencedSimon Tilling handles a large volume of contentious work. The ‘incredibly competentMichael Barlow, who heads up the practice, handles all aspects of environmental compliance, energy efficiency, contaminated land and environmental permitting. Ross Fairley advises on issues concerning infrastructure, energy, waste, lender liability and contaminated land, and also represents clients charged with environmental offences. Ian Salter is recommended for his work in the nuclear sector.

Practice head(s):

Michael Barlow

Other key lawyers:

Michael Barlow; Ross Fairley; Ian Salter

Key clients

Canal & River Trust

BT Group

Peel Ports

Affinity Water

Thermo Fisher Scientific

John Lewis Partnership

Haltermann Carless

Koch Industries

FirstGroup plc

The National Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Wessex Water on the defence of a prosecution for water pollution.
  • Advised GEO Specialty Chemicals on a novel appeal regarding an issue arising from its Climate Change Agreement.
  • Advising First Greater Western on appeals against abatement notices served in relation to notice at its Reading Depot.
  • Advising Canal & River Trust on its defence during an investigation into a pollution incident.
  • Representing Severnside Distribution Land Ltd as landowner in judicial review proceedings concerning  a high-hazard facility; the proceedings concern a consent granted by the Hazardous Substances Authority.

Osborne Clarke

Osborne Clarke advises on a comprehensive range of matters, including regulatory investigations and prosecutions brought by various environmental authorities. The team offers specialist expertise in niche areas, such as climate change, carbon trading and environmental responsibilities relating to products. Waste law is a notable area of specialism for Matthew Germain, who made partner in 2018. Alan John has renewable energy expertise. Senior associate Caroline Bush is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Germain

Other key lawyers:

Alan John; Caroline Bush


The team has a real in-depth understanding of a client’s business and its needs and requirements

Matthew Germain and Caroline Bush provide very professional service as well as invaluable guidance on niche regulatory issues

Key clients

John Laing Environmental Assets Group

Northacre Renewable Energy

Retail Inkjet Solutions

Work highlights

  • Advising Northacre Renewable Energy on the environmental aspects of the development of a £80m energy-from-waste plant in Westbury, Wiltshire.
  • Advising John Laing Environmental Assets Group on the £36m-worth acquisition of two large anaerobic digestion plants in the UK.
  • Advising Retail Inkjet Solutions on its obligations under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Led by Jon Cooper, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP’s environmental practice is regularly sought out by clients in investigations and prosecutions brought by the Environment Agency and other authorities. The team also provides advice on corporate strategies at board level, real estate transactions, environmental impact assessments and Habitat Regulations assessments. Its key areas of activity include waste, retail, transport, minerals, oil, gas and renewable energy. Legal director Sarah Holmes has expertise in environmental permitting and the environmental aspects of major infrastructure projects, as well as waste issues (with a particular emphasis on trans-frontier waste). Managing associate Stephen Panton represents clients in contentious matters involving waste crimes and permitting breaches.

Practice head(s):

Jon Cooper

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Holmes; Sarah Holmes

Key clients

North Somerset Council

The Crown Estate

Network Rail Infrastructure

Post Office

Shell UK

Carlsberg UK

Babcock International Group

Work highlights

  • Advised North Somerset Council on the environmental aspects of the reopening of the railway between Bristol and Portishead for passenger train services.

Clarke Willmott LLP

On the non-contentious side, Clarke Willmott LLP has an excellent record in large infrastructure projects. It also demonstrates strong credentials in contentious matters, such as enforcement prosecutions and other actions undertaken by environmental regulatory authorities. Environmental claims are another key work stream. Bristol-based Neil Baker advises clients, such as developers and landowners, on the environmental aspects of planning applications for (and appeals into) major housing sites, commercial and mixed use developments, and urban regeneration projects. Tim Hayden in Taunton has expertise in waste management, contaminated land, air and water pollution and statutory nuisance. In December 2018, Karen Howe departed for DAC Beachcroft LLP.

Practice head(s):

Neil Baker; Tim Hayden

Key clients

Acorn Property Group

Barratt Homes Bristol

Bristol Water

David Wilson Homes South West

Exmoor National Park Authority

Isle of Wight Council

Mactaggart and Mickel Homes

Persimmon Homes

The Scotts Company (UK)

Work highlights

  • Represented Egford Bacon in its prosecution by the Environment Agency in relation to an oil leak.
  • Advising Acorn Braintree on environmental impact assessment and relating environmental matters in the context of a planning appeal relating to 1,600 new homes, a new school and employment development in Braintree, Essex.
  • Advising MacTaggart & Mickel on a legal vetting exercise regarding environmental statement for the proposed development of land at Chard, Somerset.

DAC Beachcroft LLP

DAC Beachcroft LLP focuses on advising landowners and developers on contaminated land and land-related environmental liabilities, as well as handling regulatory issues (including waste management and pollution permitting offences) and environmental due diligence in corporate and commercial transactions. Legal director Anne Harrison jointly heads up the department with Sally Roff, who regularly represents corporate entities and individuals facing regulatory investigations and prosecutions. Karen Howe joined from Clarke Willmott LLP.

Practice head(s):

Sally Roff; Anne Harrison


The team is highly respected and compares very favourably to other highly regarded teams in Bristol

Team members give realistic advice to their clients, not just what people want to hear

High-calibre expertise at all levels – from partner to associate

Anne Harrison is the top environmental solicitor in Bristol at the moment, combining a wealth of experience, excellent knowledge and a lot of good sense

Key clients

Somerset County Council

Royal Mail

Crest Nicholson

South West Water


Taylor Wimpey

Wainhomes North West

Port of London Authority

Keepmoat Homes


Work highlights

  • Assisted Greater Manchester Pension Fund with environmental due diligence for the purchase of two new distribution parks in the South East of England.
  • Advised Port of London Authority on its duties and responsibilities with regard to a white (“beluga”) whale inhabiting the Thames Estuary.
  • Advising Abacus Projects on the environmental aspects of a 400-residential unit planning application.
  • Advising South West Water on action brought against it by the Environment Agency.
  • Advising a construction company on charges for a water pollution event near Wolverhampton.


TLT’s planning and environment team advises clients on property-related environmental issues, such as waste regulation and contaminated land. It also undertakes prosecution and defence work in relation to regulatory investigations, and also provides regulatory compliance advice. The firm has a first-rate reputation in the clean energy sector, which dates back nearly 20 years. Other industries where the team is active include leisure, retail, housing and the public sector. The 'experienced, detailed and tacticalKerry Gwyther is very active in the construction and aggregates industries; clients in this space include businesses, directors and senior managers. Gwyther co-heads the practice with Katherine Evans, who has niche expertise in town and village greens, as well as minerals and mining. Stuart Urquhart and Duncan Reed are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Katherine Evans; Kerry Gwyther

Other key lawyers:

Stuart Urquhart; Duncan Reed


A very experienced environment and safety team

The team is great with handling contracts

Everyone on the team is excellent

Kerry Gwyther is a superstar

Stuart Urquhart is able to explain complex legal concepts simply and clearly

Duncan Reed is highly experienced in his area of expertise and is always approachable and prompt in providing a response

Key clients

Glastonbury Festival

EDF Energy

Punch Taverns

Viridor Waste Management

Crematoria Management

Francis Flower


Renewable Energy Systems

British Solar Renewables

InfraRed Capital Partners

Work highlights

  • Advised Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the Model Assignment of Rights Contract.
  • Assisted Deloitte Legal Germany with due diligence covering environmental issues and potential regulatory liabilities arising in connection with an acquisition.
  • Assisted an official receiver with due diligence concerning the environmental aspects and potential regulatory liabilities associated with an acquisition.

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP’s business and regulation practice stands out due to its deep sectoral expertise in waste, energy, agriculture and construction. Apart from providing non-contentious regulatory advice, the team also defends both corporates and individuals against prosecutions brought by the Environment Agency.  Other recurring issues in the team members’ practice concern contaminated land, chemical spills, and disaster management, among others. Solicitor Jack Baumgardt and senior associate Jeremy Asher are key contacts.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP's cross-practice team undertakes environmental due diligence on real estate and corporate transactions, and advises on issues concerning the content of contamination indemnity agreements. Waste and water-related work (including bank erosion, pollution and flooding) are among other areas of focus. Practice head Mark Howard acts for clients such as developers, local authorities and landowners.

Practice head(s):

Mark Howard

Key clients

Downing LLP

RNS Holdings

Nijjar Properties

Work highlights

  • Acted for Downing LLP on an environmental infrastructure fund.
  • Advising RNS Holdings on the purchase of a proposed new build retail unit on an old petrol station, where there had been ground contamination.
  • Acting for Nijjar Properties on a statutory nuisance dispute with the local authorities in relation to  a dairy-processing site.

Stephens Scown LLP

Stephens Scown LLP is well-known for its expertise in the minerals sector, where it acts for clients such as landowners, renewables developers and mineral operators. On the regulatory front, the team assists clients with obtaining regulatory approvals, such as environmental permits. Truro-based practice head Christopher Tofts represents both companies and individuals in planning and environmental prosecutions.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Tofts

Thrings LLP

Thrings LLP's team regularly acts for businesses and landowners on both non-contentious and contentious environmental matters. The scope of its knowledge includes environmental prosecutions, controlled waste offences, environmental permitting and contaminated land (including remediation notice appeals), among others. Practice head Alex Madden is recommended.

Practice head(s):

Alex Madden


A solid team

Key clients

PB Gelatins UK

Alford Technologies

Crown Waste Management

WZ Packaging

Hills Waste Solutions

Laverstoke Park Farm

Wight Farm Energy

Denhay Farms

EU Plants

Work highlights

  • Acted for WZ Packaging in relation to an alleged environmental permitting regulations offence at its site in Telford.
  • Acted for a client in relation to a flood remediation notice issued by the Environment Agency.
  • Acted for Titchfield Festival Theatre in relation to an alleged failure to comply with a noise abatement notice at the Great Barn.
  • Representinga large logistics and warehousing company in a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency, regarding discharge offences related to the loss of hydraulic oil from a forklift.