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New Environmental Tribunal welcomed

May 18, 2011

Further information
Vicki Elcoate

With 350 specialist environmental tribunals and courts around the world, most established since 2004, the UK has some catching up to do - a seminar organised by the UK Environmental Law Association has heard.

However the new tribunals structure, led by Senior President Lord Justice Carnwath, has now put the UK on the map with a new Environment jurisdiction (within its First-tier General Regulatory chamber) making use of judges and members already within the tribunal system who have environmental expertise.
Lord Justice Carnwath said 'Making use of the new tribunals structure and expert resources could provide a low cost solution to what has long been seen as a gap in environmental law.'
As things stand, initially the jurisdiction will hear appeals against regulators - for example penalties imposed by the Environment Agency against polluters - but over time its brief could increase. Prof Richard Macrory, whose recent report (to the Senior President of Tribunals) "Consistency and Effectiveness, Strengthening the New Environmental Tribunal" sets out the framework for the new system, said the First -tier tribunal provided "an extraordinary new flexible approach". He said: "I don't have a real criticism of many of the appeals bodies that exist but it could be a lot better - more coherent and consistent and reduce the overall cost. This all fits very well with the current agenda of regulatory reform and consolidation. I also hope it would reduce some pressures of Judicial Review in the High Court". There were possibilities for the new system eventually to integrate some of the work of the Planning Inspectorate, bringing together some environmental and planning concerns.
The Government is currently reviewing the penalties regime for matters dealt with by the Environment Agency. Changes to this regime could impact on the role of the new Tribunal.

Notes to the editors:

1. UKELA aims to make the law work for a better environment and to improve understanding and awareness of environmental law. UKELA’s members are involved in the practice, study or formulation of Environmental Law in the UK and the European Union. It attracts both lawyers and non lawyers and has a broad membership.

2. Speakers at the seminar also included Rynd Smith of the Planning Inspectorate, Robert McCracken QC and George Bartlett QC, President of the Lands Tribunal. It was chaired by Lord Justice Sullivan and hosted by Simmons & Simmons. The Planning and Environment Bar Association also sponsored the event.

UK Environmental Law Association - Better law for the environment
Registered charity 299498; company registered in England number 2133283
Registered office: One Glass Wharf, Bristol, BS2 0ZX

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