A bit about us and what we do
The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) is a charity registered in England and Wales no. 1045918 and company no. 02485383. Our current President is HRH The Prince of Wales. The charity was founded in 1992 and recently celebrated its 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.
Our Leadership Team
ELF’s day to day management is undertaken by Emma Montlake and Tom Brenan as Joint Executive Directors.
Emma Montlake is also ELF’s Head of Casework and has direct responsibility for the management of the case work. Amongst many other duties.
Having trained as a lawyer Emma worked in commercial property for ten years but gave up her role in commercial practice so she could intern with ELF. After 3 months most fortuitously a job came up at ELF which Emma took. That was in 2006.
Emma is passionate about nature and wildlife and assisting ELF communities to protect the nature that they love and value. Her inspiration is the local people she works with through ELF, who take on the challenge of seeking to protect their environment from threats faced, in the face of complex legal technicalities and processes and lack of resources.
Emma is also a trustee at Sussex Wildlife Trust and sees synergies between the work she does at ELF and SWT. She is also a founder member of Green United. Helping school children in Lewes take environmental action.
Tom is also ELF’s Head of Education & Policy and is responsible for ELF’s University network and Young ELF programme.
A qualified solicitor, Tom first connected with ELF as in intern in 2005 and has worked in a variety of roles for the organisation over the years. He has also worked with the National Trust, the Gaia Foundation, WinACC, and the Biodynamic Land Trust.
A keen permaculturalist, grower, and Rights of Nature advocate, Tom seeks to tread a more Earth-centred path. He maintains one hand in the soil and the other in the law.
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.
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!).
Our 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. ELF is both a charity and a limited company and all trustees are also directors.
Richard Wald QC
Barrister at 39 Essex Chambers and Chair of ELF
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. Prior to taking silk he was rated by Planning Magazine Legal Survey as amongst the UK’s top planning juniors for over a decade.
Carol Day is a solicitor who has worked in the environmental sector for over 25 years, returning to the legal practice of Leigh Day in 2013 to run their Environmental Litigation Service.
After completing an MSc in Nature Conservation (UCL), Carol started her career in the voluntary sector as a campaigner working on environmental policy. Through her employment with two County Wildlife Trusts (Warwickshire and Surrey) and a decade on planning and site safeguard work with WWF-UK, she developed an in-depth understanding of UK/EU environmental issues.
Between 2003 and 2013, Carol was coordinator of the Coalition for Access to Justice for the Environment (CAJE), a grouping of seven environmental NGOs lobbying for changes to the law for environmental cases. In 2012, Carol was also contracted as a UK expert by the European Commission to co-author a report on access to justice in the UK.
Carol has presented at numerous national and international forums, including conferences organised by the UN, European Commission, the European Environmental Bureau and Chambers. She has published articles on a number of environmental issues in the Environmental Law Review, New Law Journal, Environmental Policy and Law and Journal of Water Law. She is the co-Chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Legal Strategy Group and a member of a wide variety of environmental charities.
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. He was Chair of ELF from 2016 to 2022.
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 is a Reader in Sustainable Development at Imperial College London working on the interplay between development, land-use and the sustainable use of natural resources. In the lead-up to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, he coordinated the land/food/bioenergy and climate science components of the Global Calculator (www.globalcalculator.org) and led the development of the Financial Times COP21 Climate Calculator (http://ig.ft.com/sites/climate-change-calculator/). This work continues to be highly influential and in 2016 he started to help develop a European Calculator for the European Commission aimed at supporting the European transition to a low carbon economy. As a member of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment’s (SCOPE) Scientific Advisory Committee on its ‘Bioenergy: bridging the gaps’ project he was lead author of the ‘land and bioenergy’ chapter and co-author on a cross-cutting issues chapter on ‘Food Security’. The globalisation of food commodity markets is a major emerging concern for food security. The Belmont ‘Food Security and Land Use: The Telecoupling Challenge‘ project is identifying the emerging critical risks and opportunities. He has also participated in two Royal Society working groups and is a panel member of its Leverhulme and DfID Africa Research Capacity Building programmes.
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.
Founder and CEO, Sixty7.green, consultants in Sustainability and The Climate Emergency. Trustee, Neuroblastoma Children’s Cancer Alliance. Fellow, Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Trustee Chair of LGBTQ+ charity in London, The Pink Singers. And Vice-Chair of ELF.
Joey is a sustainability campaigner focussing on the Climate Emergency and Responsible Business. He gained 30 years experience with the Climate Change Office in Australia, The Prince of Wales’ charitable network in the UK whilst serving several charitable boards of management. Most recently he established Sixty7.green, an organisation that brings sustainability expertise together with social justice and environmental activism. Community engagement and transformational change remain at the heart of all his work.
Honorary Vice Presidents
After 30 years of involvement with ELF, Diana Schumacher and Martin Polden stepped down from the Board of Trustees in 2022. They remain connected to the organisation and their contribution is recognised as ELF’s Honorary Vice Presidents.
Diana is a co-founder 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 is co-founder and was the first chair of the Environmental Law Foundation. 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’.