Home / People / Deborah Spence

Deborah is a Commercial Partner and Head of the Environment and Planning Group. She also co-heads the Food & Drink Group.

Deborah is an environmental and planning law specialist with over 20 years’ regulatory, transactional contentious and non-contentious experience in the public and private sectors in Ireland, Her extensive sectoral experience in renewable energy (solar, marine and wind) waste management, water abstraction and supply and wastewater infrastructure, corporate and individual regulatory compliance, operational consents, and complex land use EIA, AA and SEA issues is second to none.

Focused on risk avoidance,  she works to find solutions to environmental and planning problems to satisfy relevant stakeholders and enable projects to be developed and operated on a consensus basis.

Relevant Experience

  • Advising Intel on a complex proposed state of the art development extension at its Leixlip plant in Co. Kildare, including all land use planning and environmental operational advices, EIAR and NIS reviews of submission, all associated EPA Industrial Emissions Licence advices, Seveso and waste management / by-product Article 27 matters arising, and on the planning appeal before An Bord Pleanála
  • Advising Facebook on securing the successful development of its cutting edge data centre in Clonee, Co. Meath involving advising on and recommending a novel approach to the Environmental Impact Assessment of the whole project, streamlining both EirGrid’s Substation (SID) and Facebook’s ordinary planning application into one EIS
  • Advising daa on all strategic environmental and planning aspects of its €320m development of the Northern Runway at Dublin Airport including advising on and successfully defending multiple sets of Judicial Review and injunctive proceedings and on securing permission for the development of the second terminal (T2) under the Strategic Infrastructure Act and successful defence of Ryanair’s Judicial Review Challenge of that decision
  • Advising and representing the Railway Procurement Agency (now TII) in its preparation for a number of Light Rail Order Applications, including CPOs at the Oral Hearings in respect of line B1 (Green Line extension from Sandyford to Cherrywood) and advising on the Judicial Review litigation arising therefrom; advising on, preparing for and representing RPA at the Light Rail Order and CPO oral hearing for the urban light rail line C1 extension from Connolly Station to the 3 Arena, and all general environmental and planning advices
  • Advising the State on its decision-making processes and issues arising in granting regulatory consents for the development of the Corrib Gas field with a particular focus on grounds of challenge under EIA and AA and advising on civil and criminal environmental liability of objecting third parties
  • Advising Bord na Móna on defending a series of challenges on environmental and planning grounds against Edenderry Power Ltd’s (30% biomass fuelled) power plant at Edenderry, including complex regulatory, Habitats and EIA grounds challenging the ongoing operation of the power plant, and assisting the team in successfully securing an alternative development permission addressing the grounds of challenge, ultimately securing ongoing operation of the plant
  • Advising Coillte most recemntly on its Sliabh Bawn wind farm development and previously on its diversification into energy, and on environmental and planning matters arising from the State forestry company’s land holding and changing land use
  • Advising on the securing of Strategic Infrastructure Development consent for the Drehid MBT Facility for MSW with a 250,000 TPA capacity and advising AES on acceptance of emergency tonnages of waste material as a result of a Section 56 Emergency Direction into its Drehid facility, and the implications for its planning and EPA licensing status
  • Advising on alternative energy projects including on development consents for multiple wind farms (both on and offshore), solar farms and carbon capture and storage projects, including defending projects at the Court of Justice of the European Union
  • Advising on and defending criminal prosecutions pursued by the DPP, EPA and Local Authority of various regulatory breaches, and engaging in successful defences / plea bargaining and mitigation plans to achieve reasonable results.


+353 1 920 1150

Ten Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2
D02 T380

  • BCL, 1981, University College, Dublin
  • Admitted as a solicitor in Ireland, 1985
  • Council Member of the Irish Environmental Law Association
  • Member of IBEC Environment Policy Committee
  • Member of the Health and Safety Lawyers’ Association of Ireland
  • Member of the Law Society Curriculum Development Unit

Member of the Legal 500 “Hall of Fame”

The Legal 500: Europe, Middle East & Africa, 2018

“Leading Individual” in Planning and Environmental legal practice for over eight consecutive years, and again in 2018.

The Legal 500: Europe, Middle East & Africa, 2018

Deborah Spence demonstrates “strong expertise and regulatory understanding.”

The Legal 500: Europe, Middle East & Africa, 2015

Deborah Spence has “good business acumen and an ability to relate well to clients.”

The Legal 500: Europe, Middle East & Africa, 2014