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Environmental Law

Our environmental law team is a leading national environmental law practice with a uniquely broad offering of legal skills and expertise tailored to effectively advance our client’s commercial and sustainability objectives. 

Environmental law expertise

Environmental obligations have increased significantly over recent years and are not limited to those whose activities carry an obvious risk of pollution. We deliver careful and practical strategies and advice in all areas of environmental law for our clients, allowing them to succeed in achieving their objectives as quickly, and with as few hurdles, as possible.

Our services cover all environmental issues. These include defending our clients when facing environmental regulatory action, providing compliance advice, advising on overcoming environmental constraints to planning applications, challenging decisions made by authorities, and bringing and defending civil claims.

Our clients include house builders and other developers, mineral operators, water companies, energy and manufacturing companies, local planning authorities and other public bodies, charitable and non-governmental organisations.

In the news: landmark environmental case

We won a landmark environmental case in Harris vs Environment Agency

The High Court has ruled that key European nature conservation laws remain enforceable against the Environment Agency (and by implication other public bodies) despite the UK having left the EU.

Why choose our expertise?

  • Our team provides a full range of environmental law services
  • We have nationally recognised expertise in key areas, such as protected species and habitats, waste regulation and noise
  • Our team of environmental lawyers, based in our Leicester and Sheffield offices, range from partner to solicitor level (plus legal assistants) – which means that we work cost effectively
  • Our partners and senior lawyers are magic circle/national law firm-trained

Our areas of expertise

  • Natural capital: advising developers, commercial operators, technical consultants and landowners on legal issues relating to the natural capital economy. Our expertise in this emerging market includes advising on the new Biodiversity Net Gain regime, nutrient neutrality and on water neutrality, to assist with compliance with various environmental regulatory or voluntary frameworks.

  • Natural environment: securing protected species licences, obtaining planning and other regulatory consents when constrained by habitat/species protection. We’ve recently won a landmark environmental case in Harris vs Environment Agency. For more information please see our press release and supporting legal article.

  • Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG):  we have a long track record of assisting clients in these areas and our ESG team are on hand to steer businesses, boards, individuals, funds, investors, and other stakeholders through the changing route map of national and regional policies, regulations and frameworks.

  • Environmental permits & consents: advising on permit conditions, refusals/appeals

  • Waste management & permitting: advising on waste legislation across all sectors, from development to manufacturing; reuse and recycling of materials

  • Contaminated land: including remediation responsibilities and apportionment of liabilities; regeneration and redevelopment of contaminated land

  • Criminal defence: pollution and waste offences, non-compliance with environmental permitting requirements, wildlife crime

  • Abatement notices & nuisance orders: noise, light, odour and other emissions

  • Environment & planning: environmental impact assessment, strategic environmental assessment, habitats regulations assessment

  • Environmental law training courses: for environmental and planning professionals

  • Civil litigation & dispute management: claims for damages and injunctions; claims for compensation following works on, or compulsory purchase of, land by bodies such as the Environment Agency, water or sewage undertakers

  • Judicial review of environmental decisions and appeal processes: such as appeals against abatement or enforcement notice

Key contact

Get in touch

Latest podcast

In this episode Penny Simpson, Environmental Law Partner & Richard Broadbent, Director, discuss the recent high court case of Fry and its impact on nutrient neutrality.

Our accreditations

We are celebrating another year of accreditations and rankings.

Notable work

  • Landmark judicial review claim

    Successful landmark post-Brexit environmental judicial review. Our team won a landmark challenge of the Environment Agency’s approach to regulating water abstraction in Norfolk, thereby clarifying the role of European environmental law post-Brexit.

  • Environmental permitting regulations

    Successfully defended a major construction business in relation to allegations of serious breaches of the environmental permitting regulations. Our client was investigated by the Environment Agency on suspicion of having unlawfully deposited tens of thousands of tonnes of waste on a third-party site. We assisted our client by leading an internal investigation, providing representation at an interview under caution, making legal representations to the EA and negotiating with third parties and the EA to find a resolution which avoided prosecution, civil claims, landfill tax and other liabilities.


  • Recycling status

    Advised a national recycling business to secure end-of-waste status. We worked with multiple technical consultants and a leading environmental KC to produce a self-certification strategy for end-of-waste. The work addressed a long-standing area of uncertainty in which extensive studies and policy reviews by the EA had failed to deliver a sustainable outcome. We helped our client to manage enforcement activity in parallel with the development of a persuasive end-of-waste case which has the potential to take millions of tonnes of material outside of waste regulation each year.


  • Securing grant of complex abstraction licences 

    Securing water abstraction licences. Our team secured from the Environment Agency for our client multiple water abstraction licences notwithstanding the acknowledged associated risk to european nature conservation sites. We successfully negotiated with, and persuaded, the regulators that strict derogation tests were met.


  • "I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the splendid work you did in securing our newt licence to the time scales required. I have no dou...

    Client testimonial

  • "As for the [Freeths LLP environmental law training] course, it was 11/10. Brilliant. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve insisted that my col...

    Client testimonial

  • "Great team on environmental regulation."

    The Legal 500, 2024

  • ‘Very knowledgeable, pragmatic and quick turnaround on work.’

    The Legal 500, 2024

  • “All advice from the team was accurate and clear.”

    Chambers & Partners, 2024

  • "Freeths environmental team has an exceptional grasp of complex issues."

    Chambers & Partners

  • "Freeths are extremely competent in their knowledge of environmental and waste issues, and are always available to support us when needed."

    Chambers & Partners

  • “Freeths has a strong team who are active in the market.”

    Chambers & Partners, 2024

Related news & articles

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    Supreme Court issues landmark judgment on the scope of Environmental Impact Assessments in R (on the application of Finch on behalf of the Weald Action Group) v Surrey County Council and others

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    The hillside to die upon

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Whatever your legal needs, our wide ranging expertise is here to support you and your business, so let’s start your legal journey today and get you in touch with the right lawyer to get you started.


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