Next Generation Partners

Firms To Watch: Environment

The environment practice at Michelmores LLP advises public and private clients on matters such as nutrient neutrality and biodiversity net gain.

Environment in South West

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP advises on the whole life cycle of environmental projects from design and implementation through to decommissioning, as well as contentious matters. The practice acts for clients from a variety of sectors including waste and recycling businesses, local authorities, statutory infrastructure undertakers and food producers. The practice is headed by a trio consisting of Brian Farrell in Exeter, Ben Derrington in Bristol, and Ian Manners, the latter who joined the firm in from DAC Beachcroft LLP at the end of 2021 and is located in Bristol.

Practice head(s):

Ian Manners; Ben Derrington; Brian Farrell

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Croley


‘Team which, in environment, punches well above their weight.’

‘Ben Derrington – great on gritty environmental disputes including waste and water.’

‘The Ashfords team gets to know its clients in a comprehensive and unique fashion. Having got to grips with the client’s business, it is uniquely well-placed to steer the client through the difficulties the case may present. Once the client has experienced Ben Derrington’s attention to detail, they want no one else to fill those shoes.’

‘Ben Derrington is second to none. His knowledge of client businesses goes before him, both in legal circles and in the commercial community. He never ceases to work for his clients and with Ben, they rightly feel looked after in all respects and in the best possible way.’

Key clients

Urbaser Ltd

Pennon Group plc

Noble Foods Ltd

Somerset Drainage Board

Wandsworth Borough Council

Torbay Council

Assured Energy LLP

Framptons Ltd



GP Biotec

Adapt Energy

Cornwall Council

Ashford Borough Council

Redrow Homes

Work highlights

  • Advised Pennon Group on the acquisition of Bristol Water plc for c £814m, including due diligence on environmental aspects.
  • Advised a recycling business following the long-term deposition of 200,000 tonnes of waste in alleged breach of their environmental permit.
  • Advised a large construction group based in England and Scotland in relation to entering into a Sustainable Growth Agreement with a construction company and focus on environmental performance across an entire supply chain.

Burges Salmon LLP

The environment practice at Burges Salmon LLP advises clients across the whole range of environmental matters within real estate, from contaminated land remediation through environmental risk management, liability issues and carbon law. The firm also counts the water sector and decommissioning of power stations amongst its key areas of expertise. Michael Barlow heads the team with expertise that includes water as well as environmental projects and disputes, and energy efficiency. In May 2021, Guy Bastable joined the practice from BCL Solicitors LLP, bringing to bear extensive experience in environmental disputes and prosecutions. Nuclear expert Ian Salter, renewables specialist Ross Fairley, as well as senior associate Joanne Attwood are further key contacts. Former practice head Simon Tilling left the firm in October 2021.

Practice head(s):

Michael Barlow

Other key lawyers:

Guy Bastable; Ian Salter; Ross Fairley; Joanne Attwood; Sarah Sackville Hamilton


‘Guy Bastable has greatly strengthened the environmental offering at this firm bringing a huge amount of experience in contentious heavyweight regulatory matters, particularly in the criminal sphere.’

‘Environmental law has been a huge focus for Burges Salmon for many years, and remains so – thier status in the market puts them in the top tier of environmental law practices nationally.’

‘Excellent client focussed service, great team working skills, real added value in both law and strategy.’

‘The Burges Salmon environment team in Bristol is not only the best in the South West but is of national standing and ability. Unlike many firms, their environmental practice is a genuine practice in its own right – not just an adjunct to, for example, planning – and they cover the full range of environmental litigation as a result, including public law, criminal law and regulatory law cases..

‘Michael Barlow – reflective, brave, connected to all parts of the case, strong on both the law and strategy. Clients feel genuinely held by his presence. A steadying influence without being overly cautious.  A genuine resource in the team. Sarah Sackville-Hamilton – wonderful light touch despite being on top of the detail. Really efficient at team management and organisation, encouragement and building team cohesion.’

‘Guy Bastable is like a dog with a bone. He is thorough in his analysis of the problems, measured in his advice and a great team-player. You’d rather have him on your side than be against him. He has a phenomenal ability to recall the detail of a case.’

‘Michael Barlow is an outstanding environmental lawyer, especially for litigation work. I have worked on a number of big contentious cases with him and he leads from the front – not afraid to take big decisions in steering a case and with the judgment and experience of environmental litigation to get those decisions right.’

‘Sarah Sackville Hamilton is excellent – very hard-working and dependable but also insightful and really able to contribute to judgement calls on strategy and tactics.’

Key clients

First Group, First Greater Western Ltd

Koch Industries


Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW)

Canal & River Trust

National Trust


GYPC Ltd and Great Yarmouth Port Authority

University of Bristol

Affinity Water

Wessex Water

Georgia-Pacific LLC

Severn Trent Water


Work highlights

  • Defending First Greater Western in statuory noise nuisance proceedings arising from its operations at its Reading Depot.
  • Advising the Canal & River Trust on changes to the legislation relating to the abstraction of water from rivers and subsequent appeals of two of the licences granted by the Environment Agency to the Trust.
  • Acting for the Great Yarmouth Port Authority and the Great Yarmouth Port Company, as defendant, in a compensation claim relating to coastal erosion near the port, brought by a holiday park whose residents use the beach.

Osborne Clarke LLP

Osborne Clarke LLP has experience in supporting major developers, energy firms and public sector clients in contentious and non-contentious environmental matters alike. The firm, whose portfolio includes site remediation and environmental risk as well as carbon trading and waste law, draws on its large national and international network when needed. Matthew Germain leads the practice, which is located in Bristol, and regularly advises on waste law, regeneration schemes and environmental infrastructure, amongst others. Associate director Caroline Bush focuses on issues surrounding sustainability and climate change.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Germain

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Bush

Key clients

John Laing Environmental Assets Group (UK) Ltd

Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd

Vistry Plc

BDW Trading Limited

Stericycle Inc


Western Power Distribution

Biffa Waste Services Ltd

St Modwen Developments Ltd

Clydesdale Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised John Laing Environmental Assets Group on the acquisition of a 3.8MWe anaerobic digestion plant in Wiltshire.
  • Acted for Vistry Group Plc on the acquisition from Enfield Borough Council of land for phases 1 and 2 of the regeneration project at Meridian Water.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The regulatory and environment practice at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is known for its work in investigations, prosecutions and regulatory matters. Species protection, biodiversity net gain as well as transactional support also form part of the firm’s portfolio. Jon Cooper leads the practice from Bristol and is regularly involved in environmental, health and safety issues in both contentious and non-contentious matters. In Plymouth, Sarah Holmes specialises in sustainability and governance as well as the environmental and planning aspects of projects, compliance, real estate and transactions. Stephen Panton, also based in the Plymouth office, is ‘very technically strong on litigation process, project management and technical issues’.

Practice head(s):

Jon Cooper

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Panton; Sarah Holmes


‘They have a growing reputation in this field, dealing with some major and high profile environmental disputes for large companies. Practical and with good strength in depth.’

‘Stephen Panton: great technical knowledge, pragmatic and excellent with clients.’

‘Jon Cooper: enormous experience and gravitas.’

‘WBD managed sensitive negotiations, navigating a complicated legal process and developing a detailed understanding of the very technical issue under discussion.’

‘Stephen Panton – very technically strong on litigation process, project management and technical issues.’

Key clients

North Somerset Council

Bristol City Council

South Gloucestershire Council

Bath and North East Somerset Council

West of England Combined Authority

The Crown Estate Commissioners

Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership

Yennadon Stone Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising on the environmental impact assessment and Habitats Regulations aspects of MetroWest Phase 1, the reopening of the railway between Bristol and Portishead for passenger train services.
  • Advised The Crown Estate, manager of the seabed and much of the foreshore around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, on its latest Minerals Licensing Round.
  • Advised the Greater Cambridgeshire Partnersip (GCP) in support of the planning and infrastructure work running in parallel to the preparation of Transport and Works Act Orders on two rapid transit schemes.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Agriculture and waste are key sectors for Clarke Willmott LLP‘s planning and environment practice. The firm handles matters such as planning applications for development schemes and, on the contentious side, environmental commercial and property litigation. Neil Baker heads the practice from Bristol and is, together with Taunton-based Daniel Gill, regularly involved in environmental enforcement, due diligence and transactional environmental advice.

Practice head(s):

Neil Baker

Other key lawyers:

Daniel Gill


‘Good team with spread of expertise on environment and planning.’

‘Neil Baker – gets on with people well and gets the job done with no fuss.’

Key clients

Acorn Property Group

Anthony Rew

Barratt Homes Bristol

BDW South West

Bristol Water Plc

Mactaggart and Mickel Homes

Metis Homes

Persimmon Homes

Square Bay

Work highlights

  • Acting for the landowning development advising on environmental impacts on a major city centre mixed-use regeneration scheme called in by the Secretary of State.
  • Undertaking legal vetting of two environmental statements for planning applications relating to linked sporting quarter and residential development in the South West.
  • Defending two South West farming concerns in enforcement action brought by the Environment Agency and Natural England.

DAC Beachcroft LLP

DAC Beachcroft LLP has considerable capabilities in matters pertaining to environmental liabilities, regulatory issues, as well as environmental due diligence. Anne Harrison and Neil Scott jointly head the practice from Bristol, where Karen Howe is also a key contact. Former practice head Ian Manners left the firm at the end of 2021.

Practice head(s):

Anne Harrison; Neil Scott

Other key lawyers:

Karen Howe

Key clients

Royal Mail

Crest Nicholson



South West Water

Keepmoat Homes Ltd

NFU Mutual

Zurich Insurance

Abacus Projects Limited

Taylor Wimpey plc

Deeley Freed Estates Limited

DFE TW Residential Limited

DHL Supply Chain

Roberston Group

Work highlights

  • Advising South west Water on multiple Environment Agency Investigations from initial investigation, regulatory investigation and enforcement action as well as on on Drinking Water Directorate Investigations into potential drinking water quality offences.
  • Advising Abacus Projects Limited on environmental impact assessment and habitats regulation assessments, biodiversity net gain and comprehensive ecological mitigation.
  • Advising DHL Supply Chain on a fuel leak at a logistics site with potential to lead to a prosecution, which was ultimately avoided.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey joins the ranking with a practice that covers the whole range of environmental regulation in both national and international contexts. Energy specialist Chris Pritchett and Christian Silk, whose expertise includes planning matters, jointly lead the team from Bristol. Senior associate Becca Doman has experience advising on compliance as well as land contamination issues.

Practice head(s):

Christian Silk; Chris Pritchett

Other key lawyers:

Becca Doman

Key clients

NextEnergy Solar Holdings III Limited

British Solar Renewables

Berkeley Homes

Vistry Group

Eden Geothermal Limited

Devon Waste Management Limited


Environ Design (Sturry) Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised, through a co-counselling relationship with Simmons & Simmons, a major fund on the environmental and health safety aspects of the European sites that formed part of its proposed acquisition of a US listed data centre provider.
  • Advised Cornwall Council on the environmental permitting and regulatory aspects of the proposed Spaceport in Cornwall.
  • Provided legal services to Devon County Council for their EV charging infrastructure and services procurement.

Thrings LLP

Thrings LLP‘s planning and environment practice sports a particular focus on energy, waste and the agricultural sector. The practice, which is located in Bristol and headed by Alex Madden, is also increasingly active in environmental matters relating to property transactions and development schemes. Rosalyn Trotman is specialised in urban planning, while Rob James advises on matters such as environmental litigation in the agricultural sectors.

Practice head(s):

Alex Madden

Other key lawyers:

Rosalyn Trotman; Rob James


‘Alex Madden is a legal terrier. If there is a legal error in the process or paperwork he will find it and use it.’

‘The team ethos lead by Alex Madden sets them apart from others. The Team are experienced and are always on point with direct and robust advice.’

‘Alex Madden not only stands out on an individual basis but clearly runs an outstanding team. His strength is his ability to bring people together with the right skill set to deliver solutions for clients. Alex sets a very high bar when it comes to client care which he has instilled in his team.’

Key clients

PB Leiner UK Limited

Lyndon Thomas Limited

N-Viro Cycle Limited

Hills Waste Solutions Limited

Newland Homes Limited

Laverstoke Park Farm Limited

Denhay Farms Limited

Longwood Water Company

Costwold Eco Fuels Limited

WFL (UK) Limited

BAM Nuttall

Work highlights

  • Advised and successfully represented PB Leiner Ltd in relation to alleged offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016 following an investigation by Natural Resources Wales.
  • Secured three planning consents for N-Virocycle for on-farm storage vessels for agricultural waste to be used for spreading.
  • Acting for a claimant in a judicial review challenge into the Secretary of State’s decision to approve the development consent order for the Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm.


Clean energy, leisure, retail, housing, and the public sector are main areas of focus for the environment practice at TLT. Mining and minerals specialist Katherine Evans, regulatory compliance expert Kerry Gwyther, and Duncan Reed, who regularly represents corporate clients in environmental prosecutions and advises them on non-contentious matters, jointly lead the team from Bristol.

Practice head(s):

Katherine Evans; Kerry Gwyther; Duncan Reed

Key clients

Punch Taverns

Gresham House

Innova Energy

McCarthy Marland

Work highlights