Newcastle Law School

Environmental Regulation

Environmental Regulation Research Group

Research Group

Newcastle Law School has a long tradition of doing research into environmental and energy regulation. Our work has been funded by the AHRC, the ESRC as well as ReFINE and forms the basis for our environmental law and regulation teaching on undergraduate as well as postgraduate levels. In addition, members of the Group have a strong track-record in supervising postgraduate research students, undertaking research into all areas of environmental and energy regulation.

Our work engages a wide range of different areas of environmental and energy regulation across a range of jurisdictions, including England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland, international and EU law.

Our most recent projects include research into climate change, common land, the challenges arising from Brexit in the context of the environment, hydraulic fracturing, nature conservation, waste law, protection of indigenous communities and island states.

Aims

Within the Law School, the Group’s expertise is manifested in both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

The aims of the Environmental Regulation Research Group is to bring together leading scholars from different disciplines to address legal challenges of regulating environmental issues and to apply this research in our environmental law teaching and supervision of postgraduate students.

We aim to engage with the most pressing environmental problems from a legal and regulatory perspective and work with a wide range of stakeholders, including environmental organisation, the legal profession, public authorities and private companies to ensure our research has impact.

Previous Activities

Within the Environmental Regulation Research Group a broad range of interdisciplinary research is carried out in environmental law and environmental policy. For example:

  • Third-party intervention submitted to the European Court of Human Rights

On 2 September 2019, the Newcastle Forum for Human Rights & Social Justice – led by Ms Raffaella D’Antonio, Dr Elena Katselli (Co-convenor) and Dr Elena Fasoli (Trento University), the Newcastle Environmental Regulation Research Group - led by Dr Ole Pedersen (Convenor) and Dr Ciara Brennan, and two non-governmental organisations, namely Legambiente, and Let’s Do It! Italy, submitted, after Court permission, a third-party intervention in the case of Di Caprio and others v Italy to the European Court of Human Rights.

The case concerns a complaint against Italy that it has failed to effectively protect the rights protected under the European Convention on Human Rights, including the rights to life and to private and family life as guaranteed under Articles 2 and 8 respectively. This is the result of ongoing environmental pollution caused by tonnes of toxic waste dumped and burned in illegal landfills in Campania, in the south of the country and known as the Land of Fires. Such dumping and burning by criminal organisations has caused serious air and soil contamination which in turn have had, and continue to have, a detrimental impact on health with scientific evidence demonstrating a statistical link between the environmental disaster in Campania and the increased incidence of malformation and cancer mortality in the region.

In their legal opinion, the interveners, led by Ms D’ Antonio, a Doctoral student at Newcastle Law School, argue that the environmental disaster in Campania has been exacerbated by the lack of an effective national legal framework aimed at tackling environmental crimes and by the lack of a precautionary approach in tackling and removing all sources of environmental pollution harmful to human health. Drawing from current developments and debates in contemporary international law concerning the right to a healthy environment, the interveners stress that environmental degradation may have a direct (legal) impact on the enjoyment of rights. To this effect, states may be held responsible for failing to take appropriate action to prevent environmental degradation even in situations, as in this instance, where such degradation is caused by non-state actors.

The intervention aims to assist the Court in identifying the applicable legal principles in determining the issues before it. Amicus Curiae Research Briefing  (PDF: 660KB)

The Group’s expert members make regular media appearances and comment on current affairs, including on Brexit as well as on local environmental issues and make regular contributions to the Conversation. Recent examples include articles on marine protected areas and enforcement of environmental law.