One of our regular features will be a quick interview with someone from within or outside of Landmark. We thought we would begin with Angus Evers who we have worked with over many years on a great variety of matters. Angus also advises Landmark on any technical legal issues. Angus is one of the most respected environmental lawyers in the country and leads the environmental law practice at Shoosmiths.
Q1 How did you become an environmental lawyer?
When I decided to study law I had no idea what area I might end up specialising in. On the Legal Practice Course I studied a module on planning and environmental law, as it looked more interesting than some of the other options available. During my training contract I gained some experience of environmental law in my commercial property seat and decided that was what I wanted to do when I qualified. Luckily there was a job in the environmental team when I qualified. What interested me (and still interests me) in environmental law is the mix of law, policy and science, which very few (if any) other areas of law can offer.
Q2 Has the type of work that you do changed in the last 10 years or so and what new areas do you see developing over the next few years?
Dealing with environmental issues on corporate and real estate transactions still forms as much a part of my team’s work as it did 10 years ago, but energy and climate change issues have become increasingly important. Other issues that I have seen cropping up more frequently over the course of the past 10 years are drainage and flooding issues, and invasive species such as Japanese knotweed. Regrettably, waste crime seems to be on the increase and I have seen a number of landowners falling victim to it.
The next few years are likely to be a challenging time for environmental law in the UK, following our departure from the EU. We may see divergence in environmental laws between the different parts of the UK if the devolved administrations take different approaches to England. We will also have to deal with the implementation of the Environment Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.
Q3 Which type of Landmark (Argyll) products do you normally use?
The Argyll SiteSolutions Combined report is very much the “default” report for my firm’s commercial property lawyers on any acquisition. We like the fact that flood risk and general environmental risks are both covered in the same report and that the report has professional input from a consultant, who we can speak to directly to discuss any issues. We often also use the Energy & Infrastructure report on development transactions, to identify specific risks and constraints arising from nearby energy installations and infrastructure.
Q4 How have you adapted your working to meet the challenges of lockdown?
My firm promoted agile working well before lockdown, so I was used to working from home. I am part of a national team which is spread from Edinburgh to Southampton and our increased use of video conferencing has meant that we speak to and see each other far more frequently than we did pre-lockdown, so communication within the team has improved significantly. The main challenges have been domestic, such as dealing with two bored teenagers while still trying to deliver for clients!
Q5 What are your thoughts on the continuing loss of biodiversity in the UK and what steps do you think ought to be taken to help reverse the decline?
Biodiversity loss is arguably one of the biggest environmental challenges, not just for the UK, but globally, alongside climate change and the increasing amount of waste that we are producing (much of it plastic). I am hopeful that the biodiversity net gain provisions in the Environment Bill will do something to stop the decline and may even reverse it, but I am concerned that environmental issues may not be a political priority as we try to rebuild our economy in the wake of COVID-19.