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Book

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

Trusted by generations of students and academics alike, Environmental Law continues to provide, in its ninth edition, broad and comprehensive coverage of the key topics taught on most environmental law courses, explaining the subject in its social and political context, and considering both UK, EU, and international perspectives. Known for its clear structure and systematic approach, the book considers topics by theme and by sector, allowing more experienced readers to explore the intricacies of the subject while also providing a logical introduction for those new to environmental law or without a legal background. A clear and easy-to-understand writing style helps ensure readers are informed yet not overwhelmed, while useful diagrams and tables help to explain complex points. The new edition also features case studies, information boxes, and self-test questions to help draw out key points and consolidate your learning in preparation for assessments and further research. New to this edition are: discussions of the potential impact of Brexit on UK environmental law; an additional chapter discussing the regulation of new technologies, such as ‘fracking’; coverage of important cases such as Coventry v. Lawrence on nuisance, Walton, Champion, and the HS2 decision on environmental assessment, the ClientEarth air pollution litigation and the ICJ’s decision in Costa Rica v. Nicaragua; analysis of the Paris Agreement and other recent climate change developments; analysis of the new EIA Directive; discussion on the new sentencing guidelines; and enhanced coverage of the latest developments in respect to costs of litigation and the role of courts, the Aarhus Convention, and environmental rights.

Chapter

This chapter provides an overview of different areas of private law and their relationship to environmental law including property law, tort law, contract law, and private law. The chapter begins by showing how the role of private law in addressing environmental problems is due to environmental law being applied law. Sections 3.3, 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6 give an overview of property law, tort law, contract law, and company law and their relationship to environmental law. This analysis shows that private law has a role in framing our understanding of environmental law and environmental problems, while environmental law and environmental problems also shape understandings of private law, and of property law in particular. The final section concludes by discussing the multi-dimensional nature of the interrelationship between private law, environmental problems, and environmental law in more detail.

Chapter

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

This chapter provides a brief overview of how the EU shapes UK environmental law and policy. It begins by providing an introductory guide to EU law, outlining the key institutions of the EU, the different sources of EU law, and how EU law is made. The chapter then proceeds to look at the more substantive elements of EU law as they affect environmental protection, starting with the policy and constitutional bases for EU environmental law, and gives a flavour of the scope of EU environmental legislation, before considering the scope for national standards to exceed those set at EU level or to disrupt trade between the Member States. This is followed by a discussion of the challenges faced in making EU environmental law work, and then with some thoughts on the impact of Brexit and how this may shape UK environmental law.

Chapter

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

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.

Chapter

This chapter provides an introductory overview to environmental law including the way the subject is defined and the challenges involved in studying it. As with other chapters in this book, this introductory chapter provides an advanced introduction to environmental law containing carefully selected abstracts from cases, legislation, and academic debate. The chapter begins with an overview of the environmental law landscape in the UK and moves on to describe three different ways to define environmental law—descriptively, purposively, and jurisprudential—and why these different definitions matter. The challenges of practising and studying environmental law are explored and in the last section a framework is provided for structuring environmental law inquiry. Overall, the chapter provides a launching off point for the study of environmental law as well as a reference point for those who are studying the subject.

Chapter

The concern and awareness about the need for environmental protection has increased dramatically, both nationally and internationally, in the last few decades. One way of putting this concern into action is the law, being a means to structure and regulate behaviour. International environmental law includes many treaties and declarations, a body of State practice and some compliance mechanisms, as well as a development towards the introduction of flexible instruments to achieve compliance. This chapter discusses the context of international environmental law; environmental theories; international obligations; selected environmental treaties; and the relationship of the environment with other international law issues.

Chapter

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

This chapter deals with public participation in environmental law and policy. Over recent years, there have been significant moves towards increasing both the quantity and quality of public participation in many different areas of environmental decision-making. The exact nature of public participation can take many forms, but the chapter concentrates on access to information on the environment and public participation in environmental decision-making. It also looks at some of the reasons for giving greater access to environmental information; the types of environmental information that are available; the use of environmental information as a regulatory instrument; international and European initiatives; and past, present, and future approaches to access to environmental information in the UK.

Chapter

International environmental law is an area of international law where states have decided to cooperate with each other in order to fulfil certain goals of common interest and, for the most part, its rules and principles belong in the category of the international law of cooperation. This chapter discusses the most important parts of international environmental law and its main legal sources. It presents the fundamental principles of international environmental law, including those that seek to prevent damage to the environment and those that seek to ensure a balanced approach to environmental protection. It provides an overview of the most important parts of the substantial regulation in international environmental law, including the legal regime for the protection of the atmosphere, the conservation of nature and the regulation of hazardous substances. It also discusses features related to implementation and enforcement that are particular to international environmental law.

Chapter

International environmental law is an area of international law where states have decided to cooperate with each other in order to fulfil certain goals of common interest and, for the most part, its rules and principles belong in the category of the international law of cooperation. This chapter discusses the most important parts of international environmental law and its main legal sources. It presents the fundamental principles of international environmental law, including those that seek to prevent damage to the environment and those that seek to ensure a balanced approach to environmental protection. It provides an overview of the most important parts of the substantial regulation in international environmental law, including the legal regime for the protection of the atmosphere, the conservation of nature and the regulation of hazardous substances. It also discusses features related to implementation and enforcement that are particular to international environmental law.

Chapter

This chapter argues that rule and principles of general international law concerning protection of the environment can be identified. It should not be forgotten that international environmental law is not a separate or self-contained field of law, and nor is it currently comprehensively codified or set out in a single treaty or body of treaties. It could be argued that international environmental law is merely the application of established rules, principles, and processes of general international law to the resolution of international environmental problems and disputes, without the need for creating new law, or even for developing old law. The chapter looks in detail at the issues around the expectations and realities of international environmental law.

Chapter

This chapter concerns two key concepts of environmental law: environmental principles and environmental policy. Both concepts are well known to those who study and practise UK and EU law, but that familiarity can be deceiving when it comes to understanding their role in environmental law, because both principles and policy perform important, distinctive, and evolving functions. Environmental principles are highly symbolic ideas of environmental policy that have been developing prominent roles in environmental law globally, including in EU environmental law. Environmental policy is often implicated in environmental law regimes because of the need to respond quickly to changing circumstances and provide detailed and technical guidance in complex policy areas. Determining the legal implications of extensive reliance on policy in environmental law is thus important. Exploring both these distinctive legal features of environmental law—principle and policy—helps to elucidate different aspects of environmental law as a subject, interrogating the jurisprudential nature of environmental law and revealing key characteristics of its developing doctrine.

Chapter

Courts play an important role in environmental law. Among other things, they uphold the rule of law and adjudicate on the legal disputes that inevitably arise. This chapter explores the role of courts in environmental law. It outlines why courts are understood to be important in environmental law, what courts are, the different types of courts relevant to UK and EU environmental law, the importance of access to justice, and the actual and potential role of specialist environmental courts. Overall, what is apparent from this chapter is not only that the role of courts is an important one, but that it is also complex.

Chapter

An important feature of environmental law is the creation of statutory schemes that impose liability on those that engage in environmental deleterious activity and/or require them to remediate environmental harm. This chapter discusses three different statutory regimes that exist in UK and EU environmental law which create liabilities, obligations, or provide remedies to address a range of environmentally related problems: statutory nuisance; the contaminated land regime under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act; and the EU Environmental Liability Directive. The chapter begins by providing a brief conceptual overview of different types of statutory liability techniques. Its aim is to give some feeling for both the conceptual complexity and the practical significance of these areas of law.

Chapter

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

This chapter focuses on the complexity of environmental problems, which is one of its defining characteristics in the sense that there are often many interconnected, variable elements to the problem. It considers the interaction between values and environmental law, which involves some reflection on differing attitudes to the environment. The chapter examines some of the ways in which these values are translated into environmental principles, such as the goal of sustainable development or the Precautionary Principle; it then goes on to consider the question of whether these principles have legal status in the sense that they create legally enforceable rights and duties. Finally, it considers broader questions of environmental justice and the role of different types of rights in environmental protection.

Chapter

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

This chapter introduces the system of environmental regulation by building upon Ch. 4, which examined the sources of environmental law. In practice, environmental regulation involves more than the use of legal rules that forbid pollution and other forms of environmental harm. ‘Regulation’ is used to describe a wide range of different tools used in both legal and non-legal contexts—for example, it covers mandatory rules contained in environmental legislation, as well as non-binding environmental standards. The chapter outlines some of the reasons for regulating to protect the environment, before explaining how such regulation is introduced, applied, enforced, and reviewed. It examines the characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of different approaches to standard-setting and the various instruments used to regulate potentially environmentally damaging activities. The chapter discusses several trends in modern environmental regulation, including the policy emphasis on deregulation and the use of information disclosure as a means of governing group or individual behaviour.

Chapter

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

This chapter describes the development, scope, and application of international environmental law, which has expanded significantly since the late 1960s. The focus is on international treaties relating to environmental protection. The chapter is restricted to discussing public, rather than private, international law—that is, the law between states, rather than the conflict of legal systems. International law has often been regarded as something rather closer to international relations due to the fact that there is no single body with the power to make and enforce law against states, companies, or individuals effectively. In the UK, international law does not necessarily have a direct impact on domestic law or on individuals. Treaties need to be given effect to through national legislation and are concerned with the action of states, not individuals within states—with some notable exceptions, such as the law on war crimes.

Chapter

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

This chapter focuses on national law, while also introducing international and European sources. Environmental law emerges at international, European, and national levels partly because the complex, interconnected nature of environmental problems requires a range of solutions at all of these levels. Some of the key characteristics of environmental laws that help to explain both the form and function of UK environmental law are examined here. The chapter also considers the institutions that are involved in the administration of environmental law and policy. The administration of environmental law and policy is carried out by a diversity of bodies, including government departments, regulatory agencies such as the Environment Agency, and a range of quasi-governmental bodies. The focus here is almost exclusively on UK structures and institutions. An underlying theme of the chapter is the way in which administrative structures are used to encourage the integration of environmental law and policy both internally—for example, through the creation of the Environment Agency as a unified regulatory agency—and externally; for example, through various methods of scrutinizing environmental policy across government departments.

Chapter

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

This chapter broadly considers the origins and evolution of environmental law and policy. It then moves on to look at some of the key challenges for the future, and at possible trends in environmental law and in the costs of complying—and not complying—with environmental law. Environmental controls have a long history, going back to medieval statutes on small-scale pollution and the development of private law principles to deal with threats to property and communal assets such as water. Of course, until recently, few would have thought of these laws as part of something called ‘environmental law’ because their main focus was on the protection of private and common property. The adequacy of private law, in particular, fell far short of an effective protection regime, even for affected individuals.

Chapter

This chapter studies the development of international environmental law. A significant proportion of international environmental law obligations is contained in treaties, which often provide for institutional mechanisms or procedural obligations for their implementation. There exists a dense network of treaty obligations relating to environmental protection, and to specific sectors such as climate change, the conservation of endangered species, or the handling of toxic materials. Indeed, though customary international law knows of no general legal obligation to protect and preserve the environment, certain customary rules nevertheless have been found in specific treaties, case law, and occasionally even soft law instruments. The most significant such rule is the principles of prevention, often taking the form of the ‘good neighbour’ principle. States are required to exercise due diligence in preventing their territory from being used in such a way so as to cause significant damage to the environment of another state.

Chapter

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

This chapter, which discusses the difficult issue of defining ‘environmental law’ for the purposes of this book, covers the definition of certain key terms and provides an outline of some of the underlying themes that will be found in many of the chapters that follow. It is designed for use at the very beginning of a course of study to help to establish a context for future study. The notes and questions at the end of the chapter are designed to provoke thought about the way in which law and policy might affect everyday environmental issues and problems. In identifying the subject matter of this book, it is first necessary to consider whether there is any identifiable subject that could be termed ‘environmental law’.