Paul Collins

Senior Associate


Paul is a Senior Associate in the Business Risk & Regulation team, specialising in environmental law.

Paul has advised businesses, government departments and the environmental regulator on many aspects of environmental law, providing informed, pragmatic and easily understandable advice.

Paul’s unique experience as an environmental lawyer is very wide-ranging and invaluable. Having been in private practice, a senior lawyer for Defra, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Environment Agency, his broad client base in both the private and public sectors enables his clients to benefit from his understanding of how different parties are likely to approach a problem.

Paul understands how government departments and the environmental regulators operate. This informs his approach to working with his clients where effective influence and working with government and the regulators is critical to delivering client objectives.

Paul is a member and former trustee of the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association (UKELA). Paul was previously editor of the Encyclopedia of Environmental Law (Sweet & Maxwell) and contributor to the textbook Contaminated Land (Sweet & Maxwell). He contributed to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution Report ‘Novel materials in the Environment: The case of nanotechnology’ and had a monthly column in Environment Business. He has an active interest in the potential role of Artificial Intelligence for environmental compliance and has delivered training on its risks and opportunities for business and the public sector The role of Artificial Intelligence in environmental regulation | British Politics and Policy at LSE. Paul will be speaking on this subject at this year’s UKELA Conference (14 June 2024, Manchester). 

Relevant experience

  • Regulatory compliance, including environmental permitting, licensing and consents - advising developer, manufacturing, retail and public sector clients on a wide range of environmental compliance issues. For example, compliance with climate change regimes, environmental permitting of waste, compliance with packaging waste obligations, water discharges, water abstraction, land drainage works and wildlife and habitats consents. Paul was Defra’s lead lawyer advising on reforms to the water abstraction regime introduced under the Water Act 2003 and was lead lawyer for Defra and the Drinking Water Inspectorate in successfully defending EU infraction proceedings against UK Government for failing to fully implement the EU Drinking Water Quality Directive.
  • Energy efficiency – Lead lawyer in advising the UK Government on energy efficiency policies and drafting legislation, including the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme and the Climate Change Agreements scheme. As a senior lawyer for the Environment Agency, Paul has continued to advise on the enforcement of these schemes and others, including the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases regime and the Ozone Depleting Substances regime.
  • Sustainability, environmental management systems and environmental reporting – working closely with clients and consultants in auditing all aspects of the business which have an environmental impact. Seconded to FTSE 100 retail clients, working closely with client employees to develop a thorough understanding of the business, undertaking a comprehensive legal review of the environmental aspects of their business, identifying legal risks, reviewing supply contracts, advising on director liability for environmental offences, advising on ‘green’ advertising claims, delivering a user-friendly environmental compliance tool for use by client employees, advising on mandatory and voluntary environmental reporting.
  • Environmental litigation and regulatory investigations – representing the Environment Agency in successfully defending more than one hundred appeals against civil penalties in the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal. Advising on regulatory investigations and incident response management. Advising on civil sanctions, enforcement undertakings and related legal and reputational risk management. Effective engagement and working relationships with the First-tier Tribunal, the Upper Tribunal, government departments and environmental bodies, including: Defra, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero; the Environment Agency; Natural Resources Wales; the Scottish Environment Protection Agency; the Northern Ireland Environment Agency; the Office for Environmental Protection; Environmental Standards Scotland; Natural England; the Marine Management Organisation; the Health and Safety Executive; local authority environmental health, trading standards and planning teams.
  • Land use restrictions, habitats and nature conservation – advising on environmental restrictions, advising on environmental impact assessments and environmental statements, negotiating planning conditions and appearing at planning committees and planning inquiries, negotiating environmental management schemes, engaging with local planning authorities, regulators and other environmental bodies. As Defra’s lead lawyer, Paul drafted legislation introducing reforms to the designation of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) and advised the Secretary of State on appeals against those designations.
  • Chemicals and product stewardship – advising retailers, manufacturers, importers, distributors and the environmental regulator on the regulation and proposed reforms to the enforcement of various chemicals regimes, including REACH, ROHS, the control of mercury substances, PFAs and POPs and WEEE . As lead lawyer at Defra, negotiating with the European Commission and lawyers from other Member States and drafting EU Energy Using Products legislation.
  • Business and property transactions - drafting and negotiating environmental warranties and indemnities. Advising developer clients on managing liabilities at sites with complex contaminated land issues.
  • Access to environmental information and management of reputational risk – advising public bodies on their duties under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations, representing the Environment Agency against complaints made by individuals against the agency to the Information Commissioner’s Office and at First-tier Tribunal Information Rights hearings. Advising businesses seeking to protect commercially sensitive information from public disclosure.
  • Bespoke training and updates – delivering training on managing environmental compliance, regular speaker and commentator on environmental law and policy. 

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