Environment and Planning

The Practice

The Environment and Planning Group in Arthur Cox is widely acknowledged as one of Ireland’s ‘leading’ environment and planning practices. Our practice advises across all sectors, including Energy & Natural Resources, Water, Waste, Pharmaceutical, Chemicals, Manufacturing, Transport and Food & Drink. For this reason, our client base is very varied and is made up of public authorities and semi-state bodies; private developers, public private partnerships and corporates; local authorities and Government Departments; and, receivers, liquidators and funding institutions.

We take pride in delivering results for our clients, whether that result is securing a development / environmental consent, the successful institution or defence of criminal, civil or judicial proceedings in the District, Circuit or High Court, or resolving a dispute with competitors, a regulator or an objector to or the proponent of a project.

Our Group is headed by the highly experienced and respected partner, Deborah Spence, who is also Co-Head of our Food & Drink Group and an instrumental member of the firm’s Health and Safety Group. Deborah has more than 15 years’ regulatory, transactional and major development experience in this practice area and is widely recognised for her strategic thinking, which she applies to particularly good effect in her dispute resolution, judicial review and regulatory defence work and legislative drafting projects for clients.

The indefatigable Prof. Yvonne Scannell, consultant, continues to share her unrivalled expertise with the Group. Yvonne is acknowledged as the leading authority in Ireland in this practice area and her in-depth knowledge of EU environmental law has prompted her to be invited to lecture EU and Chinese judges on existing and emerging environmental issues. Yvonne has the uncanny ability to get to the essence of a problem and to help clients find the best solutions for resolution of that problem.

With particular expertise in oral hearings, judicial reviews and injunction proceedings, partner Danielle Conaghan has over 10 years’ experience in helping clients obtain regulatory consents, finance, develop and buy or sell major projects across all sectors. She has a keen interest in project management and uses her skills by engaging with clients to formulate strategies for early and effective risk identification, mitigation and management.  Senior associate Laura Rafferty and Associates Maeve Delargy, Jacinta Conway and Eimear O’Hanrahan complete and add to the strength of the group.

All environmental and planning lawyers in our Group are experienced litigators and members of our Litigation and Dispute Resolution group. We harness our Group’s litigation expertise to help our clients identify, manage and/or limit projects risks at the outset of a project. This puts our clients in the best possible position to defend judicial review challenges, which are more often than not taken against the grant of a development and/or environmental consent. We also work hard with our clients to engage in early dispute avoidance and dispute resolution in respect of any conflict.

Our Group regularly harnesses the wide variety of complementary skills and experience of other groups within Arthur Cox, such as Energy & Natural Resources, Projects, Health and Safety, Life Sciences, Food & Drink, Property, Corporate and M&A and Corporate Recovery and Insolvency. Our Group also benefits from specialist input from our Belfast Office, making it the largest practice exclusively dedicated to environment and planning law on the island of Ireland.

The Expertise

The Group prides itself on staying ahead of the rapid developments within environment and planning law, advising on emerging issues relevant to, for example:

  • The delivery of private as well as public strategic infrastructure development
  • Waste to energy, biomass and conventional energy production
  • Climate Change Law
  • Wastewater and Waste Management Law
  • Greenhouse gas emissions trading
  • Building energy performance
  • Producer responsibility initiatives for waste electrical and electronic equipment (“WEEE”), end-of-life vehicles (“ELVs”) and restrictions on the incorporation of hazardous substances in certain products (“RoHS”).


  • Representing Landsdowne Road Stadium Development Company Limited – a joint venture between the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Football Association of Ireland – in litigation challenging the proposed redevelopment of the stadium,including the commercial court.
  • Representing the Dublin Airport Authority plc at the planning and hearing into the €600 million proposed second Terminal at Dublin Airport that will be capable of holding 15 million passengers per annum.
  • Providing strategic advice and legal representation to Indaver Ireland in the first public oral hearings held by the Environmental Protection Agency into waste-to-energy projects proposed for Counties Cork and Meath.
  • Continuing to represent Indaver Ireland in related third party litigation in connection with these projects. These are the only such incineration projects to have received planning permission and waste licences in Ireland.
  • Advising Dong Energy Generation A/S, in its successful bid for the Dublin waste-to-energy facility, including on environmental licence impact assessment and the applications for planning approval and environmental approvals for the largest such facility proposed in Ireland.
  • Representing the largest private waste infrastructure provider in Ireland, Greenstar, in developing an integrated waste management infrastructure including defending legal challenges in the Commercial Court to the approvals for engineered residual waste landfill facilities in Counties Galway, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.
  • Acting for Glancré Teoranta in legal proceedings before the Commercial Court to challenge a decision refusing it planning permission for a waste recovery facility in County Mayo.
  • Advising the sole provider of light railway in Ireland, the Railway Procurement Agency (“RPA”), representing it at public hearings to secure regulatory approval for extensions to existing LUAS Line B to Cherrywood and to O’Connell Street and to LUAS Line C through the IFSC and to Citywest, and advising and representing the RPA in Judicial Review proceedings arising therefrom.
  • Acting for various interests, including state authorities, private developers, financiers and third party objectors, on large road construction developments including, for example, the M1/N1 Dundalk Western Bypass, the N25 Waterford Bypass, the M50 Motorway Upgrade, the M3 Motorway, the N18 Ennis Bypass and the N2 realignment.
  • Representing Park Developments in successfully defending third party High COurt challenge to permission for second phase of the Mart St. Annes development of Milltown.
  • Advising Dublin Port Company in successfully obtaining regulatory approval and related compulsory acquisition orders for the proposed road network to interface with the Dublin Port Tunnel.
  • Advising and acting for Bioverda in its application for a biomass waste to energy facility in County Cork, including representing Bioverda at the oral hearing held by An Bord Pleanála into the proposed development.
  • Acting as external legal consultant to the leading engineering consultancies, RPS Group Ireland and Nicholas O’Dwyer Consulting Engineers, providing advices on securing regulatory approval for major public water supply infrastructure in each of Counties Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare and Offaly.
  • Acting for Kildare County Council in successfully defending third party litigation over proposals to abstract a public water supply from the river Barrow and advices to Dublin City Council on proposals to secure new sources for drinking water supply to the Greater Dublin Region that include proposals for the abstraction of water from the river Shannon and transporting this across through multiple local authorities along the breadth of the Country.
  • Advising jointly with the RPS Group the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement on the enforcement powers available to public authorities and on the legal basis for liabilities risk assessment, residuals management planning and financial provisions underwriting these risks.
  • Advising and acting for REPAK, the only Government approved waste packaging compliance body in Ireland.
  • Advising and acting for WEEE Register, the only Government approved waste electrical and electronic equipment regulation body in Ireland.
  • Acting for Viridian Group in connection with all planning and environmental issues arising from the development of Phase 2 the Huntstown Power Project, Phase 1 of which was the first major independent power plant in Ireland to be financed and commissioned.
  • Acting for the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in connection with the planning and environmental aspects of the development of the Corrib Natural Gas Field.
  • Acting for vendors, purchasers and financiers in connection with issues arising from acquisition and refinancing of several industrial undertakings and utilities, including due diligence and negotiation of agreements relating to, for example, the retail businesses of Irish Shell, Statoil Ireland and the Electricity Supply Board, the Irish mining and mineral exploration company operating the Galmoy Zinc Mine, the Tynagh Energy power generation station and the veterinary and pharmaceutical manufacturer Pinewood Laboratories.
  • Advising developers, vendors, purchasers and financiers, in connection with contaminated land issues in relation to, for example, the redevelopment of the former Dublin Gas Works at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay within the Grand Canal Dock, the Tynagh Mine, and the former Arklow IFI site.
  • Advising developers and financiers in relation to the development of large retail and hotel projects including, for example, the White Water Shopping Centre, the Kildare Village Tourist Outlet, the Killing Hollow Hotel in Powerscourt, the Ballybrit and Ballybunion Hotels.
  • Acting for major players in the emerging greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, including advising on regulatory compliance issues and the preparation of climate change strategies for cement production, power generation, pharmaceutical and food processing plants.
  • Advising the Friends of St Colman’s Cathedral in relation to planning issues arising from the proposed re-ordering of St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh, including representing the Friends at the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing and successfully securing a decision from the Board overturning Cork County Council’s decision to permit the works.
  • Acting for private objectors in successfully preventing the development of a number of major projects, including the development of a proposed composting facility in Louth and first proposals for the redevelopment of Athlone town centre.
  • Advising Atlas Oil – now part of the Enva Group – on its unique position nationally in recycling used oil, and assisting in its submissions to the Regulator.
  • Acting for and advising Wyeth Medica Ireland, international pharmaceutical company, in defending its position in connection with litigation relating to waste management activities and transfrontier shipment issues.

 Environment and Planning Group Northern Ireland