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Planning and Environmental 

James appears regularly in the High Court and at public inquiries on behalf of developers, local planning authorities, major utilities companies and third parties in planning and environmental matters.  He is also experienced in civil litigation including private nuisance and negligence actions in the Technology and Construction Court.  His experience extends to trial advocacy in the Crown Court (where he has defended and prosecuted in cases concerning planning, environmental and regulatory offences).

On the non-contentious side, James has advised several major land holders on planning matters to assist in their long term development strategy and management of their property portfolio.  He has also advised local authorities on legal issues arising from policy formulation under the Local Development Framework system.

Some of his specific areas of expertise in the field of planning and environmental include:

  • Waste, pollution and statutory nuisance. He has experience in waste and pollution matters, including private actions for nuisance and negligence in relation to contaminated land. He has regularly appeared for both local authorities and corporate defendants in relation to noise abatement notices, appeals and prosecutions. Clients for whom he has worked in relation to contaminated land and pollution (including remediation notice issues) have included corporate and public sector clients including Tesco Stores Limited, Southern Water, and Thames Water.
  • European environmental legislation. James has particular expertise regarding the respective assessment regimes required under the Habitats, EIA and SEA Directives. He has advised both large scale developers and third party objectors in relation to compliance issues arising from European environmental issues. He has specific expertise in relation to mitigation licences required under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. He has also advised in relation to professional negligence issues arising from an environmental consultancy and mitigation work.

Between 2011 and 2017 James was part of the Global Environment Team at Allen & Overy LLP where he worked on various contentious planning and environmental matters and regularly advised on various planning and environmental due diligence issues in relation to number of high value transactions.  Between 2007 and 2009 James worked with the Planning and Public law team of the Treasury Solicitor's department preparing legal advice to the Planning Inspectorate and DCLG on High Court planning challenges (both statutory and judicial reviews). He worked on over 30 cases in two three month attachments to the department. He has also worked at DEFRA and Dechert LLP in-house on planning and environmental matters. 

Planning and Environmental Litigation 

James has extensive experience of acting for and advising claimants, including significant commercial clients, and defendants in judicial and statutory review claims in the higher courts, both as junior and sole counsel.    Significant planning and environmental public law cases that he has been involved in include:

  • Dillner v Sheffield City Council [2016] EWHC 945 (Admin) – environmental judicial review of the Sheffield Highways Streets Ahead PFI contract (acting for Amey Highways Limited)

  • Borealis Polyolefine GmbH v Bundemisiter fur Land-und Forstwirtschaft Case C-191/14 and C-192/14 (April 2016) – preliminary reference in the CJEU regarding the lawfulness of the European Commission’s Cross-Sectoral Correction Factor

  • R(Smech Properties Limited) v Runnymede Borough Council [2015] EWHC 823 (Admin); and [2016] EWCA Civ 42 – third party challenge to mixed development in the Surrey green belt

  • (R)Total Lindsey Oil Refinery Limited v DECC CO/279/2014(October 2014).  Acting for Total in the EU Emission Trading Scheme judicial review

  • R(Prideaux) v FCC Environment UK Ltd [2013] EWHC 1054 (Admin) – advising a lender’s consortium regarding a third party challenge to the Buckinghamshire County Council’s grant of planning permission for the Greatmoor Energy from Waste project

  • Cornwall Waste Forum St Dennis Branch v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2012] EWCA Civ  379 – advising a lender’s consortium regarding a third party challenge to the grant of planning permission for the Cornwall Energy from Waste project

  • R (Pampisford Estates) v SSCLG [2010] EWHC 131 (Admin). Acted for the Claimant in a judicial review challenge of a screening decision of a renewable energy project

  • R (Mageean) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2010)
    [2010] EWHC 2652 (Admin).  Acted for an interested party in a judicial review challenge with regards to a grant of consent for a wind turbine in an AONB

  • R (Boggis) v Natural England [2009] EWCA Civ 1061. Represented the claimant in the judicial review of an SSSI designation on the Suffolk coast by Natural England. This Court of Appeal case attracted considerable media attention due to its implications for coastal landowners trying to protect their property from rising sea-levels and increased erosion rates

  • MA Holdings Limited v George Wimpey UK Limited [2008] EWCA Civ 12. Acted as junior counsel for a third party developer in a successful application for permission to appeal High Court judgment quashing a local plan under section 287 TCPA 1990

  • Kingsley v Highways Agency (Lands Tribunal) (August 2010). Represented the successful claimant in interlocutory proceedings in the Lands Tribunal concerning the validity of a certificate of appropriate alternative development. The case was one of the first of its kind to consider the circumstances in which an application for permission to apply for a certificate of appropriate alternative development under section 15 LCA 1961 should be granted

  • R (Grovendale Corporation Inc) v Network Rail Infrastructure Limited. Acted for a major London landowner against Network Rail in a successful judicial review claim against the service of a notice to treat in respect of land compulsorily acquired for the Thameslink development at Blackfriars station

  • Magalia Investments Ltd  v SSCLG and Ealing Borough Council. James acted for a commercial freeholder in a successful s.288 claim concerning an advertisement consent appeal which had significant implications in respect of break clauses in the lease of the upper storeys of the property

Major Infrastructure and Strategic Projects 

James’ major projects work has included:

  • Bristol Port Company. Junior counsel for BPC in their successful promotion of the Bristol Deep Sea Container Terminal project, consent for which was granted in February 2010

  • British Airports Authority. Junior counsel to BAA on the Heathrow Airtrack Project, a £500m scheme to provide direct rail access from London Waterloo to Heathrow Airport

  • London Underground Limited Victoria Station Upgrade. Junior counsel for London Underground Limited in the successful promotion of the £750m Victoria Station Upgrade project, consent for which was granted in 2010 following a public inquiry

  • Royal Mail Group. Advisory work regarding an extensive planning audit of the Post Office property portfolio

  • Central Bedfordshire Council.  Advice in relation to sustainability appraisal and the draft Luton and South Bedfordshire Core Strategy

  • Cambridgeshire County Council.  Represented Cambridgeshire County Council in its objection to the A14 motorway upgrade scheme from Huntingdon to Cambridge

Environmental and Regulatory Litigation (Criminal And Civil)

James’ environmental expertise spans both civil and criminal work, for both prosecuting authorities and defendants.  Significant environmental litigation and investigations in which he has been involved include:

  • Environment Agency v Magnox Electric Limited. He appeared for the EA in criminal proceedings against the operator of the Bradwell Nuclear Power Station for various breaches of the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 resulting in the radioactive contamination of the Bradwell estuary

  • Environment Agency v Biolabs UK Limited. James assisted leading counsel in the prosecution of a factory operator for major breaches of the 1999 COMAH regulations, following a joint investigation by the HSE and EA into a fire at chemical works which led to a major pollution incident

  • Environment Agency v Albany Homes Limited/ “Operation Nitrogen”.  Advising regarding an investigation into a number of companies regarding the remediation of contaminated land and illegal disposal of waste in North London

  • Cambridgeshire County Council v Arriva Plc and others (advising in relation to a groundwater contamination claim in the Technology and Construction Court)

  • Southern Water v BP Oil UK Limited.  Advising Southern Water in respect of a groundwater contamination  claim in the Technology and Construction Court

  • Chichester District Council v Kier Services Limited. Acting for a major national property services contractor in a prosecution brought under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 arising out of an illegal waste dumping operation carried out by a sub-contractor

  • East Devon DC v Dunkerswell  Race Track.  Representing a company owned by Nigel Mansell in  preliminary proceedings in relation to noise nuisance arising from a go-kart track in East Devon

James has experience of wider regulatory matters, primarily in health and safety and consumer safety matters (including inquest work).  Particular cases include:

  • Dorset Fire Authority v Total Waste Limited. James acted for a director of a large paper recycling facility charged in his personal capacity for various breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 200. The case included legal argument on the power of the courts to award costs from central funds under section 16 POA 1985 in circumstances where a defendant company has been substituted as defendant in place of a director

  • Health and Safety Executive v Edeco Services Limited. Assisting in the case preparation of a prosecution of an energy company in relation to a fatality at an off-shore gas storage facility

  • R v Klein (Lewes Crown Court).  Junior counsel assisting in gross negligence manslaughter and health safety prosecution arising from a fatality at a warehouse in West Sussex.
  • R v Team Waste Management Ltd and Taylor. Appeared for the Crown in a health and safety prosecution in respect of a fatality during a waste recycling operation

  • Health and Safety Executive v West Norfolk District Council. Representing the HSE in criminal proceedings of a local authority arising out of a fatal accident on council-owned land in Norfolk

  • Health and Safety Executive v West End Cold Stores Limited. James acted for a defendant company in relation to an HSE prosecution arising from a serious accident at a packing plant in Lincolnshire

  • Essex County Council v PMS International UK Limited.  Instructed by a local authority in multiple proceedings (criminal and civil) against a major UK importer for breaches of consumer safety legislation

  • Food Standards Agency v Romford Halal Ltd.  Instructed by the FSA in relation to various breaches of food hygiene legislation by a North London abattoir