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Environmental Law

Environmental Law (9th edn)

Stuart Bell, Donald McGillivray, Ole Pedersen, Emma Lees, and Elen Stokes
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date: 07 December 2023

p. 44413. Environmental assessmentlocked

p. 44413. Environmental assessmentlocked

  • Stuart Bell, Stuart BellProfessor of Law and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of York
  • Donald McGillivray, Donald McGillivrayProfessor of Environmental Law, University of Sussex
  • Ole W. Pedersen, Ole W. PedersenReader in Environmental Law, Newcastle University
  • Emma LeesEmma LeesUniversity Lecturer in Environmental and Property Law, University of Cambridge
  •  and Elen StokesElen StokesProfessorial Research Fellow in Law, University of Birmingham


This chapter looks at the international, European, and national laws relating to environmental assessment, and the explosion of litigation that has occurred over the years. Environmental assessment has emerged as one of the key environmental law mechanisms. Its essence is that information about likely environmental impacts of things such as development projects, and now also plans and programmes, is properly considered before potentially harmful decisions are made. It can be useful to think about environmental assessment in the context of some wider issues of environmental decision-making. Another basic issue addressed here is one that frequently crops up in environmental assessment law; namely, the tension between adhering strictly to procedural rules and adopting a pragmatic approach to decisions that are considered sensible.

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Note: An update has been made available on the Online Resource Centre (June 2017).

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