Environment & Planning

Our Environment & Planning Group excels in applying technical and commercial thinking to this extensive, complex and increasingly regulated area.

Increased 'producer responsibility' as the basis for waste legislation, increased public participation in environmental decision-making, strategic planning for environmental protection by State agencies, increased penalties and supervisory powers and the beginnings of a real interface between economics and environmental protection all make Environment & Planning a critical practice area.

Our areas of expertise Include:

  • Pollution Control Licensing for industry
  • Specialist advice on Contaminated Land issues
  • Waste Management Law and Policy
  • The EU Emissions Trading Scheme and other Climate Change Controls
  • Strategic Infrastructure Controls
  • Planning and Development law: including the complex of legal and procedural rules around applications for planning consent; enforcement by planning authorities; and representation at planning oral hearings
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Law

On contentious matters we have a broad range of experience: from prosecutions at local level, to Environment & Planning-related Judicial Review cases. We have acted in some of the most complex and significant regional and national environmental contentions in recent years.

We also provide focused, transaction-oriented environmental legal due diligence support for property and corporate transactions, reflecting William Fry’s reputation as a leader in the area of Mergers & Acquisitions.


Our experience includes advising/representing:

  • Advising BioMarin Pharmaceuticals Inc. on its environmental due diligence and EPA licensing in its acquisition of Pfizer's bulk biologics manufacturing plant for $US48.5m. 
  • Chartered Land, on the “Dublin Central” project. We acted as planning law advisor throughout the site assembly and planning application processes, as well as legal representative during the An Bord Pleanala Oral Hearing into this major City Centre block re-generation.
  • The lead third-party objector during An Bord Pleanala’s oral hearing (September 2008) into the controversial development proposed for the former Jurys-Berkeley Court site in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. The proposal was successfully defeated.
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) on all planning law due diligence related to proposed operation of three of the co-location hospitals as part of the competition run by the Health Services Executive in Ireland.
  • RWE Power, on detailed environmental and planning due diligence surrounding the proposed acquisition of the Viridian power plants in Dublin.
  • IKEA International, on general planning advice arising from the grant of planning permission for the development of its first store in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Tesco Ireland, in relation to its ongoing programme of supermarket acquisition and development throughout Ireland.
  • Louth County Council, in relation to the preparation of its statutory scheme under the Planning Acts for recouping over €156m in capital infrastructure costs through development levies for the “North Drogheda Environs” scheme.
  • ConocoPhillips, on enforcing various environmental warranties after the acquisition of the Whitegate oil refinery from the Irish Government.

Upstream Greenhouse Gases – In or Out of Environmental Impact Assessment?

In April 2021, the Irish High Court ruled on a challenge brought by An Taisce against a decision of An Bord Pleanála granting planning permission for a large cheese-manufacturing plant. The court held that An Bord Pleanála's environmental impact assessment was not invalid for having failed to include an assessment of the impacts associated with "upstream" milk production, in particular agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Ireland's Offshore Electricity Grid: DECC Release Policy Statement on the Framework for the Offshore Grid

A key step has been taken towards Ireland's goal of delivering 5GW of offshore wind energy by the end of the decade. The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) has just published a Policy Statement on the Framework for Ireland’s Offshore Electricity Transmission System.

EU Issues 'Gold Standard' for Environmentally Sustainable Activities

On 21 April 2021, the EU published the first of two planned sets of performance criteria for environmentally sustainable activities under the Taxonomy Regulation. The published criteria will allow businesses and investors to assess activities and determine whether they meet the EU standard for substantially contributing to the environmental objectives of climate change mitigation or adaptation.

Sustainable Finance Update: An Overview of the Latest Legal Developments in Sustainable Finance

Sustainable finance is continuing to dominate agendas in the financial services industry with an increasing focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as part of a financial institution's credit analysis. In this update, we look at some of the latest legal developments, from updates to the Green Loan Principles to the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosures Regulation.

Warmer Now? EU Roadmap for Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

The European Commission has published a consultation roadmap for revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. What are the key features relevant to the construction and property sectors and those acquiring, funding or delivering refurbished or new housing and commercial buildings?

View all

We are consistently ranked as one of the leading Planning & Environment law firms in Ireland.


  • Led by Conor Linehan, the planning and environment practice at William Fry works closely alongside the real estate, projects and corporate team to provide the greatest possible service to its clients. Key clients include Linde AG, whose recent merger with Praxair Inc created the world's largest supplier of industrial gases. The team also represented Biocore in the planning and environmental consenting processes for a large bioenergy park at Castlerea. Other clients include Fingal Council, Hines, Edwards Lifesciences and EirGrid. Construction specialist Liam McCabe is also noted. Legal 500 2020 
  • The planning and environment practice advises a mix of domestic and international clients. Conor Linehan's recent work highlights include advising Amazon on all the environmental and green energy issues in respect of a new data centre in North Dublin, and assisting Value Retail with the planning and environmental permissions for a development project in County Kildare. Liam McCabe and Jarleth Heneghan are the other key contacts. Legal 500 2019
  • The teams recent highlights included advising Eirgrid on all consenting processes for the development of the Ireland-France interconnector, and assisting Facebook Ireland with the planning and environmental permitting for the construction of a data centre. Legal 500 2018
  • William Fry is often first choice for ‘high-value, time-critical projects’. The team is advising Fingal County Council in its role as planning authority and environmental impact assessor regarding the application for an extra runway at Dublin Airport. Practice head Conor Linehan is an expert in environment law. Legal 500 EMEA 2017
  • William Fry’s practice spans financing, planning law and environmental regulation. The team advised Brookfield Renewable Energy Group on planning law and environmental regulation for a wind farm, and also assisted Chartered Land in relation to planning processes for the Dublin Central development. Conor Linehan maintains a solid reputation. Legal 500 EMEA 2016


Conor Linehan

  • Led by Conor Linehan, William Fry's Environmental & Planning Law Unit is described as "consistently best in class" by leading legal market Guide, Legal 500 EMEA. The Guide lists Conor as "highly recommended" for Environmental & Planning Law, referring to his "very solid grasp of legislation and how it impacts on business" and to his efforts for clients as "leaving no stone unturned". 

Liam McCabe

  • One source describes him as "very commercial and thorough," and goes on to explain: "As a client I feel protected and well prepared in complex negotiations, and he has the ability to build consensus among parties and get a reasonable solution." ​​Chambers Europe 2019
  • Market sources say he is "technically brilliant, an excellent negotiator and always available."  Praised for his "superb technical knowledge and remarkable commercial awareness." Sources also note that he is "exceptionally effective in negotiations on the client's behalf." Chambers Europe 2018
  • Practice head Liam McCabe is "a superb negotiator when it comes to fine detail".Legal 500 EMEA 2018
  • In Chambers Europe 2017 Liam is described as ‘professional and personable’ and ‘excellent’.
  • According to sources in Chambers Europe 2016, impressed clients say Liam is an "excellent practitioner who knows something about everything - he understands banking, finance, property, probate and so many areas of law that he brings an amazing mind to the table and pierces through any issues to find an easy solution." Market commentators say: "He is knowledgeable and hard-working, and has the ability to pull in the experts required for each aspect of the project, co-ordinating things well."

Jarleth Heneghan

  • According to one client, Jarleth has a "great technical knowledge and excellent tracking of issues requiring close-out." Legal 500 2020
  • "His attention to detail, responsiveness and ability to change strategy due to the issues thrown at us was remarkable. He doesn’t quit or take the easy route, but he continues to fight for what’s right for the client" quotes another source in Legal 500 2020, adding his "depth of knowledge, commercial outlook and ability to look round corners have been invaluable to us over the years and will continue to be so into to the future," "his level of service delivery is top class."
  • Described by clients as "attentive and knowledgeable," Jarleth  is known for his work on both advisory and contentious construction cases. He maintains a particular specialism in liability quantum and time disputes. Chambers Europe 2018
  • The "meticulous" Jarleth Heneghan provides "very practical advice on the public procurement process". Legal 500 EMEA 2018 
  • In Chambers Europe 2017, Jarleth is described as having a broad practice covering construction advisory matters and dispute resolution. He has particular expertise in liability, quantum and time disputes. One client lauds his "hands-on and solution-focused" approach. In Legal 500 EMEA 2017, Jarleth is described as ‘professional and personable’ and ‘excellent’. 

Key Contacts

Liam McCabe Partner