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Cover Environmental Law

11. Private law and environmental protection  

Stuart Bell, Donald McGillivray, Ole W. Pedersen, Emma Lees, and Elen Stokes

This chapter focuses on the torts—or civil wrongs—traditionally relied on in environmental litigation: private and public nuisance, trespass, negligence, and the rule in Rylands v. Fletcher. It discusses and outlines statutory nuisance and various instances of statutory civil liability, some of which go beyond providing remedies for individuals and provide for wider environmental clean-up. Traditionally, private law has attempted to serve the function of controlling environmental damage. However, the chapter shows that the similarity is often superficial; the essential characteristic of private law is to regulate relationships between individuals by the balancing of individual interests. It concludes by briefly considering the EU Environmental Liability Directive, which has some similarities with private law remedies but is primarily an administrative mechanism for environmental remediation in defined situations.