Supreme Court on nuisance and planning

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 19 March 2014

The Supreme Court handed down an important decision on the relationship between private nuisance and planning permission on 26 February, citing publications by a member of the UCL Centre for Law and the Environment.

In broad terms, the tort of nuisance addresses the reasonable use and enjoyment of land. The paradigm private nuisance is perhaps a case of noise or smells from industrial or commercial activities, although a nuisance can also take the form of physical harm to property or encroachment on the claimant’s land (for example by tree roots). Many of the activities challenged in private nuisance have been granted planning permission, raising profound practical and constitutional questions about the relationship between the regulatory state and the courts. Read the rest of this entry »

A successful conference on CCS – 6 March 2014, London

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 11 March 2014

KCLresizedOn the 6th of March 2014, King’s College, in collaboration with UCL, organised a conference on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), held in Senate House (London).

With contributions from government, industry and academia, discussions were lively, informed,  and encouraged  a sense of urgency to get CCS on track. Speakers included the Government Chief Scientist, Sir Mark Walport, Dan Byles MP, Prof. Stuart Haszeldine of University of Edinburgh, Ward Goldthorpe (Crown Estate) , David Kennedy (Climate Change Committee) Ashley Ibbett (Department of Energy and Climate Change), Ian Havercroft (Global Carbon Capture Storage Institute) and many others. Read the rest of this entry »

Polish Report on Carbon Capture and Storage

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 5 March 2014

Poland CCS Report image

The UCL Carbon Capture Storage Programme today published a report on the implementation of the EU CCS Directive in Poland. Jerzy Jendroska, one of Poland’s leading contemporary environmental lawyers, was commissioned by the Programme to write the report.

Transposition of the Directive was a lengthy process, with the final national legislation agreed in September 2013, over two years after the Directive’s deadline for transposition. The delay was largely due to the challenges of creating a workable and clear legal framework within existing complex mining and energy legislation.

To read the full report, please click on on the following link: J. Jendroska – Implementation of the CCS Directive in Poland

Read the rest of this entry »

“Nuclear energy sounded wonderful 40 years ago”

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 4 March 2014

Four UCL academics have recently published on ‘UK citizen views on Carbon Capture and Storage’ in Energy Policy.

Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman, Maria Lee (of the CLE) and Yvonne Rydin, ‘”Nuclear energy sounded wonderful 40 years ago”: UK citizen views on CCS’ (2014) 66 Energy Policy 428,


Around the world there is increasing interest from government and industry in the potential for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies to play a part in decarbonisation. This paper examines how people with little previous exposure to CCS technology, frame and discuss it, and how in the absence of information, ideas, notions, values and experiences shape opinion. We present data from a series of focus groups held with environmental activists, planning councillors, and adult and youth community group members in London in 2012. We found that views on CCS are shaped strongly by wider factors, particularly trade offs between different energy futures. Lay-critiques were similar to those put forward by environmental groups and were strongly framed by conceptions of nuclear power. We argue that although there is little public disquiet concerning this technology in private opinions were generally negative. This, and the use of nuclear power as a framing device, may present a challenge to policy-makers and industry committed to implementing CCS while promoting education as the main mechanism for public acceptance.

Freshfields LLM Student Evening

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 4 February 2014

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City solicitors Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer hosted an informal evening in January for UCL LLM students taking environmental and energy options.  Over supper, around 35 students from all over the world heard from Senior Associate Vanessa Jakovich and two of her colleagues what it was actually like practicing environmental law in an international law firm, and the qualities needed to be effective.  This was followed by a talk from Richard Gordon QC, a leading London public law barrister, who considered the proper relationship between the unelected judiciary and an elected government, especially in the light of current tensions. Richard Macrory co-director of the Centre for Law and the Environment commented, “Freshfields have long been supportive of UCL’s environmental law activities, and we are delighted yet again for their generosity in making this such a worthwhile evening for our current students.”

Marine protected areas in Antarctic waters

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 20 January 2014

Ben Milligan’s paper concerning marine environmental management in the waters surrounding Antarctica has been published in The Limits of Maritime Jurisdictionan edited collection by the University of California Berkeley Law of the Sea Institute and Martinus Nijhoff PublishersThe Limits of Maritime Jurisdiction ‘comprises 36 chapters by leading ocean scholars and practitioners devoted to both the definition of maritime limits and boundaries spatially and the limits of jurisdictional rights within claimed zones.’ Ben’s paper reviews several policy options for establishing marine protected areas in Antarctic waters, and identifies how international legal frameworks both constrain and enable their implementation.

Law and Policy Seminar Series

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 13 December 2013

All talks take place in Seminar Room 7 on Wednesdays, 1-2 pm (unless otherwise stated). A sandwich lunch is provided – please register for each event for catering purposes.

To register, contact Liz Carter at

Tuesday 19 November 6pm-7.30pm
Freshfields, London
The Annual Journal of Environmental Law/ UKELA Garner Lecture
‘The Common Laws of the Environment, at Home and Abroad’
Rt Hon Lord Carnwath CVO of Notting Hill, UKELA President
27 November ‘High Speed Rail and High Speed Reform: Perspectives from the Environmental Bar’
New Westaway, Barrister, Francis Taylor Building
4 December Richard Jackson, Directive, Environmental Sustainability Team, UCL
29 January ‘Representing Small Island States in Climate Negotiations’
Linda Siegele, Centre for Law and Environment, UCL
12 February ‘The State of Climate Justice’
Sharon Turner, Climate and Energy Senior Lawyer, ClientEarth and Honorary Professor at UCL
5 March
Barnes, 2.15-4.30pm
Meet at 1.15pm in the Law Faculty Foyer
Trip to London Wetlands Centre
12 March ‘Access to Environmental Justice’
Tom Brenan, Environmental Law Foundation
19 March Dissertation ‘drop in’ clinic for LLB students
25 March, 1 – 1.50 pm ‘Europe and the Environment – Is there a Future?’
Ludwig Kramer

European Environmental Prosecutors Meet in the Hague

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 4 December 2013

Environmental prosecutors from all over Europe attended the Hague on 27 and 28 November 2013 at a conference hosted by EUROJUST and the newly formed European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE). The meeting brought together for the first time prosecutors specialising in environmental crime from Eurojust and the ENPE as well as representatives from the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL), Interpol and Europol.

In most European countries, bodies responsible for the prosecution of environmental crime are distinct from the regulatory agencies who have responsibility for licences and inspection and the imposition of administrative penalties -  the Environment Agency and Natural England in England and Wales are unusual is that they combines both functions. Professor Richard Macrory, co-director of the Centre for Law and the Environment, gave the key-note speech at the conference and outlined his vision for a more coordinated and integrated system, spanning criminal and administrative responses.

“We now need to think how we can more effectively coordinate criminal and administrative sanctions. There should be a number of principles that should underline any system of sanctions. A core principle is that a sanction should be designed to change the behaviour of the offender – sometimes this needs a criminal punishment, sometimes not. Second, an effective sanctioning system will ensure no financial gains are made by non-compliance. Sometimes this can be achieved by a criminal fine. But again there may be other more imaginative ways of ensuring this. An effective sanctioning system has to be very responsive to a broad range of offenders, and the bodies responsible for enforcement, whether criminal or administrative, need to create and publish an integrated enforcement policy. Such a policy will indicate the range of sanctions available and the circumstances when they are most likely to be applied – this gives important signals to the businesses concerned, and increased public confidence in the overall system.”

Mr Leif Görts, National Member for Sweden and chair of the meeting, commented: “This meeting was broad and ambitious and the first of its kind…… We all agree on the threats, and we also agree on the obvious need to share experience and knowledge; this is exactly why Eurojust bringing together senior environmental prosecutors is so important and highly relevant.”


Judicial Review Reforms

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 15 November 2013

In September 201Trade Union_63 the Ministry of Justice published proposals for further reforms to Judicial Review procedures.  These include the possible creation of a specialist Land and Planning Chamber within the Upper Tribunal to handle planning JRs, and more controversially ideas for restricting standing, and minimize ‘political’ JRs designed primarily to delay Government decision-maker.  Professor Macrory has made a personal submission to the Consultation Document.

Key points in Professor Macrory’s submission which focuses on environmental JRs are:

  • The Consultation Paper focuses on planning JRs and acknowledges that many of its proposals cannot apply to Aarhus environmental JRs. Yet many planning JRs will inevitably engage Aarhus.
  • Aarhus does not entitled people to bring frivolous or unwarranted claims but the the vision of Aarhus for economical and speedy access to review procedures requires a more radical rethink on how JRs have been traditionally handled.
  • There is considerable merit in the proposal of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) in handling planning JRs.  Environmental JRs should also be transferred, starting with those areas of environmental law where statutory appeals to the First Tier Environment Tribunal now lie.  The new Chamber should be called the Land, Planning and Environment Chamber.
  • Third parties who had participated in environmental regulatory procedures should have a limited right of appeal to the First Tier Environmental Tribunal on the substantive or procedural legality of the decision in question. Providing an appeal in this way would be more consistent with Aarhus aspirations than JR actions and by channeling such challenges through the First Tier Tribunal would help dampen unrealistic and expensive JR claims.
  • There is a limited discretion under Aarhus to define standing requirements under national rules for environmental NGOs but it is unlikely that doing so will meet concerns expressed in the Consultation Paper, and it is preferable to rely on judicial discretion.


The Government responded to the consultation in February 2014 – Cm 8811

  • The Government has decided not to set up  a new chamber in the Upper Tribunal for planning and environmental JRs. Instead it will create a new Planning Court within the High Court -  “The Government is satisfied that the Planning Court continuing to hear cases in the High Court will deliver the improvements it had been minded to seek through the creation of a Planning Chamber in the Upper Tribunal. The Planning Court should be up and running more quickly without introducing uncertainty around the development of new rules and case management procedure that a Planning Chamber in the Upper Tribunal would have required”.
  • The Government has decided not to change existing rules on standing in planning and environment JRs – “The Government is clear that the current approach to judicial review allows for misuse, but is not of the view that amending standing is the best way to limit the potential for mischief. Rather, the Government’s view is that the better way to deliver its policy aim is through a strong package of financial reforms to limit the pursuit of weak claims and by reforming the way the court deals with judicial reviews based on procedural defects.”


The European Union Raw Materials Initiative: responding to key legal and policy challenges

By Centre for Law and Environment , on 14 November 2013

mine-_c_-istockphotoThe UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR), with the UCL Faculty of Laws and the European Institute,  held the first UCL Symposium on the legal and policy issues associated with the European Union Strategy on Raw Materials and Resource Efficiency on 8th November. Chiara Armeni, Research Associate with the Faculty of Laws-Centre for Law and the Environment – and with ISR, was the promoter of the event, which was sponsored by the UCL European Institute Small Grants’ Scheme.

The Symposium attracted more than 90 registered delegates from academia, industry, government and NGOs.  It was opportunity to stimulate academic discussion on the challenges of access and sustainable use of raw materials, as well as to identify key legal and policy questions to be developed under the ISR Research Agenda.

Details on the aims and objectives, the Programme, speakers’ biographies and additional materials can be found here.