We’ve got the power. What can local authorities legally do about climate change?
About this event
Local authorities are on the front line of the battle against climate change. According to Friends of the Earth there are more than thirty actions that local authorities could and should take to help the fight against climate change. These include reducing carbon emissions through housing policies, procurement, planning and transport policy, infrastructure improvements and by decarbonising constriction and regeneration activity.
But, in practice, what legal powers can local authorities use to put these plans into action and what legal obstacles do they face?
To address these questions, LexisNexis and Local Government Lawyer have put together a panel of legal experts to explore four key aspects of local authorities’ roles in reducing the rate of climate change:
Assistant Director of Governance & Monitoring Officer
London Borough of Hounslow.
Rachel is a specialist planning solicitor with significant commercial experience in all areas of planning, regeneration and local government law - dealing with large scale strategic schemes, estate regeneration, capital delivery and infrastructure projects.
She is currently a Director, Deputy Vice President and National Expert for Planning, Highways and Environmental Law for Lawyers in Local Government and a Law Society Academic Board Member. She was formerly Chief Projects Assessor for the Diploma in Local Government Law and Practice (2016-19).
Rachel has significant expertise in ensuring good governance (at central and local levels), advising upon public law issues (vires, consultation, fairness), planning and highways law, property acquisitions and disposals, urban regeneration schemes, procurement/contracts and infrastructure.
This includes experience of advising on a broad range of matters including: planning appeals; s288 challenges and judicial reviews; compulsory purchase; contractual issues; planning policy (Local and Neighbourhood Plans, SPD's, and CIL), strategic planning and regeneration projects.
She also has experience of advising on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and TWAO's (on behalf of the Secretary of State and objecting authorities) including: drafting statutory instruments (HS2); dealing with petitions; advising Ministers; dealing with Select Committees; drafting safeguarding directions; advising on land safeguarding issues; compulsory purchase matters; judicial reviews; statutory and generalised blight issues; non-statutory discretionary compensation schemes and securing mitigation packages - (HS2 (Phase 1, 2 a & 2b); East West Rail; OxCam Arc; Thames Tunnel; Northern Line Extension and various Highways England TWA Orders.
Stephen Cirell Consultancy Ltd.
Stephen Cirell is a well known national expert on public sector climate change, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Starting his career as an in-house solicitor in Local Government, he went on to be a Partner with Eversheds and head up its local government services nationally, was lead Director on climate change and renewable energy in Cornwall Council and then set up his own consultancy. He is one of the most experienced consultants on public sector green agenda work and runs Stephen Cirell Consultancy Ltd as well as working with APSE Energy.
Stephen is involved in a range of different projects, centred around the creation of a low carbon economy, emissions reduction schemes and renewable or clean energy projects. Examples are working with a number of different Councils on solar farm projects, buildings related solar PV projects and advice on power purchase agreements. He is also advising on climate emergency declarations (and the Action Plans that underpin them), the establishment of Energy Services Companies and is involved in an interesting project for one of the Combined Authorities on how to embed Climate Change into decision making on capital projects.
In general, Stephen is using the innovation and creativity of a career spanning huge commercial experience to assist local authorities to meet ever increasing climate change targets and bring a range of other benefits to their areas in so doing. It was for this reason that Stephen was shortlisted by the Financial Times for the Most Innovative Lawyer of the Year award in 2010.
Francis Taylor Building
Richard Honey QC practises as a barrister in the fields of public law and environmental law, with particular specialisms in judicial review and similar statutory challenges, infrastructure projects, compulsory purchase and compensation, and climate change and ESG litigation. He is called to the Bars of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Richard appears most frequently in the Administrative / Planning Court and in the Upper Tribunal Lands Chamber. He is also an experienced appellate advocate, having appeared in the Court of Appeal 18 times, including 14 appearances as lead/sole counsel.
Until he took Silk, he was a member of the Attorney General's A Panel of junior counsel to the Crown, having spent some 12 years on the AG's panels in total. Richard is ranked as a leading barrister in four separate fields in both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500: local government; environment; planning; and agriculture and rural affairs. He was the environment/planning junior barrister of the year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards in 2018 (nominated in 2016 also).
Richard has experience in advising on and litigating environmental, social and governance (ESG) disputes, including climate change, emissions trading, biodiversity, and business and human rights. He has advised the UK government on international climate, environmental and biodiversity treaty obligations.
Richard's experience of climate change legislation goes back to 2007-2008, when he undertook advisory and drafting work on the Climate Change Bill. He has particular experience of climate change risk assessment and climate litigation risk management. He is instructed in a number of contentious climate change cases for BEIS, HM Treasury, UK Export Finance, DfT and MHCLG.
Senior Projects and Infrastructure Lawyer,
James is a senior projects and infrastructure lawyer, with over 15 years' experience in advising both public and private sector bodies on commercial arrangements, outsourcings, joint ventures, the procurement and delivery of major infrastructure projects and the legal issues that arise in concluding such transactions.
His extensive experience advising on a number of market leading infrastructure projects in waste, housing, schools, police, highways, health, pensions and the nuclear sector, focuses on delivering long term solutions which promote mutually beneficial relationships and commercial results.
Significant achievements include the procurement and completion of a number of complex waste PFI and PPP schemes. These include:
He provides advice on a variety of complex commercial arrangements, outsourcing and joint ventures, as well as on significant infrastructure projects across the transport, housing, education, health and nuclear sectors.