Course Outline -

Environmental Science and the Law LG 309
Lecturer: Brian Foley, LL.B. Barrister-at-Law.
Course Outline
This course is intended as an introduction to the rules and regulations which govern
how we interact with the environment. Now, environmental law, taken as a whole is
perhaps the “biggest” of all the legal subjects. It is composed of a multitude of
domestic statutes, regulations and judicial decisions, but also of a massive amount of
legislation from the law-making institutions of the European Union. Moreover,
environmental law, unlike other areas of law such as criminal or tort law is heavily
connected with policy-making institutions as well institutions charged with other
forms of environmental over-sight such as data collection, water quality monitoring
etc. Indeed, even the most recent (and mammoth) text on the subject in Ireland has to
admit at several points that many aspects of environmental law are far outside its
scope!1 No-one could ever hope to get a full grasp of the intricacies of environmental
law in six weeks. So, we won’t aim quite that high. Rather, the purpose of this
course is to introduce you to environmental law – to offer a basic overview of some of
the main areas of environmental law which are relevant in Ireland coupled with an
overview of the relevant institutional and regulatory framework. To that end, the
course is composed of 12 topics which are as follows:
1. A Brief History of Environmental Regulation in Ireland
2. The Regulatory Environment I: Sources of Law
3. The Regulatory Environment II: Institutions and Enforcement
4. Introduction to Planning Law
5. Environmental Impact Assessment
6. Air Pollution
7. Noise Pollution
8. Water Pollution
9. Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control
10. Waste Management
11. Conservation, Habitats and Biodiversity
12. Assessment of Themes, Future Trends
By reason of time constraints, the course must be selective. Thus, we cannot offer an
introduction to every aspect of environmental law such as, for example, special
controls in relation to protected building, mineral development regulation or forestry
law. It should be noted, however, that many of the topics identified above are quite
broad and will entail an examination of sub-topics such as, for example, the concept
of strategic environmental impact assessment under the broad heading of
environmental impact assessment.
Scannell, Environmental and Land Use Law, (Thompson Round Hall, 2006).
Environmental Science and the Law – Course Introduction – © Brian Foley, 2006.
Course Materials
For each of the topics above, students will be provided with a detailed handout.
However, the handouts are intended primarily as aids to understanding the lectures
and, indeed, the lectures will not go into as much detail in respect of certain points as
the handouts do. The handouts make passing reference to additional texts and, in
particular, to decisions of the courts. The importance of particular external sources
will be stressed in the lectures where relevant. For your information, however, the
following texts can be quite useful. However, please note that there are no general
“student” texts in environmental law. Most are orientated towards practitioners and
are quite detailed and quite expensive so please note that students are not required to
buy any of the texts listed below. Also, environmental law changes at an incredible
pace – so be careful relying on any text which is more than a few years out of date.
General Texts
Scannell, Environmental and Land Use Law, (Thompson Round Hall, 2006)
Comerford & Fogarty, Environmental Law: A Glossary and Handbook, (Round Hall
Sweet & Maxwell, 2000)
Law Society of Ireland, Regulatory Law, (Cavendish, 2004)2
Topic Specific Texts
Simons, Planning and Development Law (Thompson Round Hall, 2004).
Comerford, Wildlife Legislation, 1976-2000, (Round Hall Sweet & Maxwell, 2001)
O’Laoire, Waste Management Legislation, (Round Hall Sweet & Maxwell, 2001)
Scannell, The Habitats Directive in Ireland, (Trinity College, 1999).
The course will be assessed through two class-examinations. The first examination
will be in the second lecture of the third week and the second examination will be in
the second lecture of the sixth week. More about the exams will be said at the first
The chapter on environmental regulation by Deirdre Ni Floinn has a general overview of waste
management, air pollution and water pollution.