Environmental Law

Established over 20 years ago, Carson McDowell’s environmental law team provides both contentious and non-contentious advice to clients on all aspects of environmental risk and regulation. The team provides environmental law advice from the formulation of planning applications and environmental statements, to post permission pollution prevention, control permits, and ultimately the defence and instigation of environmental judicial reviews. The team is also responsible for bringing the first challenges to area plans of its type in Europe, premised on the requirements of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive and the first Habitats Directive judicial review in Northern Ireland.

Specialist areas of expertise include environmental due diligence, waste law, contaminated land, integrated pollution control, and the defence of environmental prosecutions.

What we do:

  • The instigation and defence of judicial review proceedings in relation to environmental decisions
  • Defence of environmental proceedings brought by the NIEA regarding contamination and compliance with licensing and permit conditions
  • Negotiation of warranties and indemnities to minimise environmental risk exposure
  • Advice on the content and lawfulness of environmental statements
  • Advice on the content and lawfulness of Strategic Environmental Assessments
  • Advice on environmental permit and compliance issues
  • Environmental due diligence – including due diligence pursuant to the acquisition of waste industry companies, energy from waste plants, and the financing of such acquisitions of business operating in NI for local and international investors
  • Environmental due diligence pursuant to the acquisition and financing of wind energy developments in NI
  • Drawing up contacts to provide for allocation of environmental risk
  • Advice on the acquisition and disposal of brownfield sites
  • Advice on contaminated land and remediation issues
  • Waste law including the acquisition of Waste Management Licenses, Waste Management Exemptions and Pollution Prevention and Control Permits
  • Incineration projects
  • Anerobic digestion projects
  • Material recovery facilities
  • Energy from Waste projects
  • Advice on recycling legislation
  • Advising on air pollution control
  • Advising on noise pollution control including the defence of noise abatement notices issues

What Others Say About Us

Chambers and Partners UK 2019

What the team is known for

Excellent team advising a number of high-profile companies on the full spectrum of environmental law. Regularly handles significant projects and disputes work, with notable expertise in judicial reviews and representing clients in public inquiries and appeals. Also highly experienced in advising on the environmental aspects of renewable energy schemes. Further expertise in drafting supporting environmental statements for planning applications.


Sources say: "They offer high-quality work and focused, strategic advice."

Work highlight

Represented Indaver in defending judicial review proceedings challenging the lawfulness of planning permission granted for a waste incinerator in Newtownabbey.

Notable practitioners

Head of department Gary McGhee maintains a healthy reputation for his knowledge of environmental matters, particularly enforcement and planning appeals. Sources praise his "great customer service and pragmatic approach to all issues."

The "exceptionally courteous" Grant McBurney attracts praise for his broad environmental and planning practice, frequently advising clients on nuisance actions and the environmental aspects of regeneration projects. He also has notable experience of judicial reviews relating to planning appeals.