On the basic level, environmental law is the group of laws that govern how we as people interact with the environment around us. This covers the rules, regulations, agreements and laws that are relevant to our environment. It covers a range of issues, such as the use of natural resources, the prevention of pollution and the protection of local plants and animals.
In the UK
In the UK, the main environmental agencies are the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland. There are also individual local authorities, so there may be some variation depending on where you live.
Issues covered under environmental law can include fly-tipping, noise disturbance, graffiti, pollution and issues over public access. A lot of this was developed after the Environment Protection Act was introduced in 1990. This means that specialising in environmental law is relatively new, with a lot of professionals developing this after initially specialising in property or construction.
Often, a legal professional will be brought in to do due diligence on various projects. For example, a major issue in recent years has been the disposal of asbestos. Aside from being an environmental issue, there is also the danger of people being harmed if the material is not properly removed. Therefore, having someone to advise on this process is not only an important legal consideration but also one in terms of public safety.
There may also be issues when it comes to planning permission. You may want to build on an area that houses some rare species of animals or plants. Therefore, any construction work would have to consider this and may have to be amended.
It is also important in terms of energy and emissions. In some cases, this is not just ensuring that businesses comply with being environmentally friendly; it can also be beneficial. For example, a restaurant that cuts back on waste is not only conserving resources but is also saving money by not wasting energy and being more efficient.
There is also an element of pre-emption- Having an environmental legal consultant means you can spot issues before they emerge. This can be vital in addressing situations before they become serious. Any issues that emerge because a company was not sufficiently diligent when it comes to the local environment could seriously damage their reputation, so it is recommended that you seek legal advice before applying for planning permission or writing up your company’s environmental policy.
We want to help
As an established family firm, Larcomes have been working with businesses for many years. We are sympathetic to the needs of the businesses, while at the same time wanting to make sure that the local area is properly looked after. If you are concerned about whether or not your business is compliant with local environmental law or want to talk with a consultant, please contact us today, and we will be happy to go over your personal situation in more detail.