A bit about us and what we do

Overview

The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) is a charity registered in England and Wales no. 1045918. Our current President is HRH The Prince of Wales. The charity was funded in 1992 and recently celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary.

We help the voice of ordinary people and communities to be heard on matters affecting the environment in which they live. View our current cases here.

It’s about participation and access to justice. It’s about your views and feelings – not ours or any ‘green elite’ – on the quality of the air you breathe, on the open spaces, wildlife, land use and waterways near your home. It’s about promoting the collective, good decision-making which is at the very heart of civilised, democratic and stable societies.

We do this by providing free information and guidance in-house on environmental issues for individuals and communities,  also through our university based law clinics, and via our network of specialist environmental lawyers and technical experts.

We exist primarily to help socially and economically disadvantaged communities which want to address their concerns, but lack the resources or information to do so. All, however, are welcome to enquire. To find out how to use our services, please click here.

How it works

ELF is incredibly efficient

We provide legal assistance to some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country to the value of as much as £1 million a year, on a budget of less than £35,000.

This is possible because:

  • our member lawyers and technical experts work free of charge (thank you all pro bono members)
  • our university clinics provide help free of charge (thank you all ELF university law clinics)
  • our Helpline is provided free of charge (thank you Irwin Mitchell)
  • our website is built and maintained free of charge (thank you Blue Moon Creative)
  • our Google advertising is free of charge (thank you Google)

This means that every penny you donate goes towards paying for the core team which identifies which who is best placed to help in every case, puts communities with similar challenges in touch with each other, researches and writes all of our consultation responses (etc) and handles day-to-day administration.

Please help

By making a donation – however large or small – or by joining us
  • £5 will cover the cost of the typical 15 minute advice consultation after which almost 50% of enquirers say they have the information they wanted.
  • £50 will cover the cost of drafting a consultation response, getting feedback from trustees and pro bono members and submitting to the relevant parliamentary committee. You can see examples of this vital work here.
  • £100 covers the typical transport cost for one of our experts to visit an affected community (sadly, the train companies don’t yet allow us free travel!).

To make a single or monthly donation by credit card or PayPal, please click here.
To see how you can get involved, please click here.

Our trustees

Our 11-strong board of trustees work voluntarily to make sure we’re doing all we can to reach and help the voices of ordinary people to be heard and respected.

Diana Schumacher

Diana is a founder member and Vice President of the Environmental Law Foundation. In early life Diana was a refugee in India. After repatriation and during her adolescence she developed a keen sense of social justice. Diana has become a prolific writer and social activist focusing on the connections between energy, environment, economics and education (‘the 4 E’s’). Diana has been involved in a plethora of organisations. She is a founder member of the New Economics Foundation, Green Alliance, Green Books (first UK environmental publishing company), and the Gandhi Foundation. She has also been a trustee or patron of over 25 other educational, environmental or development organisations and is currently Vice-President of ECOROPA (Ecological Action Group for Europe).

Martin Polden

Martin Polden is the Vice-President, co-founder and the first chair of the E.L.F. Martin has had a long career as a solicitor in general practice. He has focused on how the application of law can be used to counter environmental depredation and be a source of support in protecting community interests. Martin has served on the Law Society Planning and Environmental Law Committee and the European Environmental Bureau; he is a Fellow of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies and of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1994 he co-authored The Environment and the Law (published by Longman), an account of the interconnectedness of environmental factors with the theme of the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. He has made frequent appearances on TV and radio. In 2006 he was appointed O.B.E. ‘For Services to Environmental Law’.

David Hart QC

David Hart is a barrister with One Crown Office Row chambers. He practises in environmental law, professional negligence, construction and medical law. His environmental work covers the whole range of issues – litigious, regulatory, planning, public law, criminal and transactional work – over all subject areas including water (Cambridge Water), waste (SRM, REPIC), air (Coalite), odour (Dobson), noise (Dennis, Watson), fishing (cockles, polluted trout streams, and Mott about salmon licences), windfarms (Macarthur). He also has a wide contaminated land practice, including two leading appeals (Sevenoaks and Sandridge). He has appeared in courts at all levels, including the European Court of Justice (Bromley) and House of Lords (Cambridge Water, UU), and Supreme Court (E). He has particular experience of group actions, in the environmental field (7 group actions alleging odour nuisance, 4 alleging dust & noise and a petrol contamination claim) and in medical cases.

Michael Taite

Michael is MD and co-owner of the digital branding and communications agency Blue Moon Creative which, in 2014, won the Skills Funding Agency’s National Small Employer of the Year award for its work in training and developing young graphic designers and website developers. In 2015, the firm was listed as a City & Guilds Top 100 Employer.

A copywriter by vocation, from 1989 to 94 Michael was Head of Marketing & Sales for Regalian Properties PLC in London, reporting directly to Chairman & CEO David Goldstone. He subsequently established his own consultancy, primarily advising legal and property companies on marketing matters. These included, from 1999 to 2008, an investment vehicle of the Washington State Investment Board which involved Michael in a great many projects in Hungary, Romania and Poland.

Jeremy Woods

Jeremy Woods is a Lecturer in bioenergy at Imperial College London working on the interplay between development, land-use and the sustainable use of natural resources. Recently he became co-director of the Porter Alliance, a network of UK research institutions dedicated to the development of advanced biorenewables and he chairs the UK working group of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment and coordinates a number of research projects with a focus on African development and the potential for bioenergy production.

Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn is Legal Director at Avaaz.org and a member of the International Advisory Council of Legal Action Worldwide.

Nick is an environmental lawyer who previously worked at Weil Gotshal & Manges as head of the firm’s London pro bono and CSR program. He is a founder and chair of the Legal Response Initiative, a charity providing legal support to developing countries participating in the UN climate change negotiations and a founder and trustee of Advocates for International Development, a charity providing legal advice in support of the achievement of the MDGs/SDGs.

Joey Tabone

Director, Business in the Community. Trustee, Neuroblastoma Children’s Cancer Alliance. Fellow, Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce

Joey has a background in sustainability gained during 10 years with the Australian Federal Government’s Climate Change Office and more recently in the UK through The Prince of Wales’ charitable network. Community engagement and transformational change is at the heart of all of his work.

Richard Wald

Barrister at 39 Essex Chambers

Richard Wald is an environmental, planning and public lawyer. He is ranked by Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 in the categories of Environmental Law (1st tier of Leading Juniors), Planning Law (3rd tier of Leading Juniors), Administrative and Public Law (including Local Government) and Energy Law. He has also been rated by Planning Magazine Legal Survey as amongst the UK’s top planning juniors for over a decade.

Michael Barlow

Burges Salmon

Michael leads the Burges Salmon environment team and the cross-firm water team and has particular expertise in energy efficiency, contaminated land and environmental permitting. A former editor of the Environmental Law Review, Michael regularly lectures on environmental law and contributes articles to environmental journals.

Sarah Inge Parker

Trustee, The Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment
Associate, The Energy Institute
Committee Member, Trinity College Law Association

A solictor-turned environmental scientist, Sarah is a consultant in sustainability and energy management. Previous roles include Project Manger with Carbon Leapfrog and five years as a solicitor with Linkalters LLP.

Kirsty Schneeberger

Head of Grants and Trusts, ClientEarth
Vice Chair, UK Environmental Law Association

A former ELF intern, Kirsty’s past roles include Climate Change Manager at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Advisor to the Office of the Executive Secretary at the UNFCCC.

150+ lawyers

giving up their time

7 university

law teams

200+ cases

each year

£1M+ worth

of free help each year