Stephen Tromans KC

Year of call:

+44 (0)20 7832 1111

“His experience and knowledge are phenomenal, as is his judgement; he always makes the right call”
Chambers & Partners 2019

“Continues to reign supreme.”
Legal 500 2018

Stephen Tromans QC is generally recognised as the leading practitioner in environmental law in the UK. As long ago as 1991 when a partner at Simmons & Simmons, he was named as the “Lawyers’ Lawyer” for environmental work by “Lawyer” magazine. Since moving to the Bar in 1999 and taking silk in 2009 he has been consistently highly rated in environmental law, energy law and planning law, and has been both environmental Junior and Silk of the year in the Chambers Bar Awards.

His work covers all aspects of environmental and natural resources law, both in its regulatory and commercial aspects, in cases such as judicial review, planning and other appeals, commercial disputes, arbitration, nuisance and other common law claims. It has a significant international and EU dimension. Stephen is known as the author of the leading texts on the subjects of contaminated land, environmental assessment, and nuclear law. He has a substantial practice in all forms of energy, water, waste, and major infrastructure generally.

He is recognised by Chambers & Partners as one of the Chambers 100, a list of the top 100 silks across all practice areas.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Stephen’s work includes various forms of ADR. He is a CEDR accredited mediator. Examples of his relevant work include:

Expert Determination

Stephen has acted as an appointed expert to determine disputes arising under environmental indemnity provisions.


Stephen has represented a major waste company in an arbitration relating to royalty payments for the import of material to landfill. He has acted on major arbitrations relating to commercial agreements involving environmental matters. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and is available for appointment as an arbitrator.


Stephen acted for a waste disposal authority in a dispute over a PFI waste management contract, which was successfully resolved at mediation. He has also acted for local authorities on regulatory disputes which have been mediated.

Air Quality

Stephen has advised the Mayor of London and Transport for London on numerous issues relating to air quality including the introduction of various charging schemes and the Ultra Low Emissions Zone. He acted for the Mayor in the successful challenge brought by ClientEarth against the Government’s plan for reducing nitrogen dioxide levels, and has also advised on the air quality issues of Heathrow expansion.

He represented the Mayor and TFL in the challenge to the National Policy Statement on a Third Runway at Heathrow.

He has advised various other local authorities on compliance with their duties on air quality.

Planning, Environment & Property

Access To Justice

Stephen has a strong commitment to furthering access to justice in environmental matters and was Chair of the Environmental Law Foundation (2010-2013), a registered charity which has the objective of providing pro bono advice to members of the public facing environmental problems.

He is currently acting for ELF on a communication and complaint under the Aarhus Convention to the Compliance Committee against the UK for removal of the ability to recover after the event insurance premiums in environmental cases.

He appeared in the Court of Appeal in the leading cases on the application of the Aarhus Convention under national law, Morgan v. Hinton Organics (Wessex) Limited [2009] Env LR 30, [2009] EWCA Civ 107 and Austin v. Miller Argent [2014] EWCA Civ 1012.

He has taken cases for various community groups for nuisance on a CFA basis (see under Nuisance, below) and advises NGOs on wildlife conservation issues on a pro bono or reduced fee basis (see under Habitats and Nature Conservation, below). He acted for the Heath & Hampstead Society on its challenge & proposals by the Corporation of the City of London for works on the Heath Ponds.


Stephen advises on matters of chemicals safety and on REACH. He has advised various major companies on legal issues arising from the REACH regime. His experience in this area goes back to the mid-1990s when he advised Ciba-Geigy on proposals within the EU to ban its product Atrazine under the Plant Protection Products Directive. He has advised companies in the oil and gas and armaments sectors on REACH.

Contaminated Land

Contaminated land is a core part of Stephen’s practice. He is the co-author of the leading textbook on the subject, Contaminated Land (3rd edition, 2018). He has advised on many of the UK’s most problematic sites and appeared in the leading cases on the subject. His experience goes back to the early 1990s when he advised the Black Country Development Corporation and the Welsh Development Agency on some of the worst contaminated sites in their area. He advises both on liability issues under Part 2A regime and on structural and contractual aspects of transactions involving contaminated sites, for example company restructuring, venture capital funds, funding and insolvency arrangements. Examples of his work include:


Stephen appeared in the House of Lords for the Environment Agency in the case of R (National Grid Gas plc) v. Environment Agency [2007] 1 WLR 1780, [2007] UKHL 30, the leading case on the legislation.

Brofiscin Quarry

Stephen has acted for and advised Environment Agency (Wales) on Brofiscin Quarry, an unlined quarry used for hazardous waste disposal and which has been described as the UK’s most polluted site, including advice on the approach to one of the parties which was in insolvency proceedings in the US.

Barking & Dagenham

Advice to local authority on major housing estate built on contaminated site.

New Forest District Council

Advice to local authority on riverside site contaminated by timber treatment works.

Powys County Council

Stephen acted for Powys on its successful appeal in Price v Powys County Council [2017] EWCA Civ 1133; [2018] WLR 1717


Advice to various train operating companies on contamination of track, sidings, depots and other rail infrastructure.

Church Commissioners

Advice to the Commissioners on a contaminated coastal landfill site.

Smart v. Filer (2009)

Stephen acted for the claimant in a claim in nuisance and Rylands v. Fletcher, for contamination of the claimant’s property by oil from illicit car breaking operation. The case settled during the course of the hearing in the TCC.

Oil Depots

Advice to operator of major oil deport for common law claims arising from spills affecting neighbouring land. He also advised British Pipeline Agency in respect of criminal proceedings under COMAH and the Water Resources Act 1991 arising from the Buncefield explosion, and in respect of the groundwater contamination which ensured.


Acting for Taylor Wimpey at inquiry in a successful Part 2A appeal against a remediation notice served in respect of a former gasworks site developed for housing in the early 1970s.

Common Law Claims

Acting for Homes and Communities Agency in claims for contamination of an important development site from adjacent distribution depot. Also advising various water companies on possible claims for contamination of groundwater resources. Acting for a private land owner on a claim for extensive contamination of farmland by asbestos.

Expert Witness

Stephen has experience of acting as an expert witness in major litigation. In 2010-2012 he acted as an expert witness on UK environmental law on IPC and PPC in respect of US litigation in the US District Court involving a contractual claim arising from purchase of a major UK chemicals facility: Invista BV v. Dupont, instructed by Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP. This involved preparation of an expert’s report, giving deposition in the US and preparing written direct testimony for trial.

Habitats & Nature Conservataion

Stephen has a keen interest in the law relating to habitats and nature conservation. He was from 1996-2002 a Council member of English Nature (the predecessor body to Natural England) and assisted them in implementing the changes to the law on SSSIs made by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. He was a member of the DEFRA High Level Advisory Group reviewing implementation of the Habitats Directive. He acts on a pro bon or semi-pro bono basis for groups such as WWF and RSPB.

Examples of his relevant work include:


Stephen represented DEFRA in R(RSPB) v. Secretary of State, an important case on the Wild Birds Directive. He also represented Natural England in R (McMorn) V Natural England, a case on licencing the killing of birds of prey.


Stephen acted for Associated British Ports as interested party in the case of Humber Sea Terminal Ltd. v. Secretary of State for Transport [2005] EWHC 1289 on compensatory habitat. He has also advised ABP on appropriate assessment issues relating to expansion of the Port of Southampton.

Nuclear Power

Stephen has advised EDF Energy on habitats aspects of the project for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, both in terms of terrestrial effects and marine effects such as cooling water discharges and the construction of an aggregates import jetty.

Coal Power Stations

Stephen advised various electricity companies and the Association of Electricity Producers on the review of consents in respect of acidification of protected habitat sites.


Stephen acted for DEFRA in the leading case of R (Akester) v. DEFRA and Wightlink Ltd [2010] EWHC 232 on appropriate assessment in the context of the introduction of new types of ferry. He later advised Natural England on the approach to assessing the project and the provision of compensatory habitat.


Stephen acted for the Borough of Poole at the 2011 Talbot Village public inquiry on proposals for new housing close to Dorset Heathlands SAC and SPA areas, which considered habitats planning policy, the Dorset Heathland Interim Planning Framework, and appropriate assessment, as well as mitigation measures such as cat proof fencing. He has advised developers on compliance with the Habitats Directive and on biodiversity offsetting including a ground breaking planning appeal at Thaxted, Essex (2014).


Advice on the management of water levels to protect breeding bird habitat in the Ouse Washes.


Advice on UK compliance with the Habitats Directive in respect of the designation of marine areas for the protection of harbour porpoise, leading to a successful outcome of WWF and the propoises.

Rights of Way

Acted for Ilchester Estates, in respect of objections to a coastal path, based on failure by Natural England to undertake an appropriate assessment


Acting for the government in a case involving culling of gulls, and for Natural England in a case involving capture and killing of buzzards


Advising numerous planning authorities and developers on requirements for appropriate assessment both in the context of planning applications and local plans.

Major Accident Hazards

Stephen has advised and acted on cases involving major accidents and the relevant legislation. He is familiar with approaches to risk assessment and has worked with some of the world’s leading experts on explosion and vapour cloud risks. Examples of his work are:


He advised British Pipeline Agency in respect of criminal proceedings under COMAH and the Water Resources Act 1991 arising from the Buncefield explosion, the largest peacetime explosion in Europe, and in respect of the groundwater contamination which ensured.


He represented a waste recovery company in criminal proceedings under COMAH following the collapse of a storage tank, and another company in proceedings for inadequate maintenance of pipework at an airport refuelling system.

Marine risks

Stephen acted for South Hook Terminal Company in successfully defending challenges to permission for a new liquefied natural gas terminal at Milford Haven, against allegations that risks of vapour cloud explosion had not been properly assessed by the planning authorities and HSE: R (Hardy and others) v. Pembrokeshire County Council [2006] EWCA Civ 240 and [2007] EWCA Civ 1403.

Hazardous Substance Consents

Acting on a challenge to a hazadous substance consent affecting a major commercial development.

Marine Law

Stephen has strong experience in marine environmental law, dating back to the early 1990s when he advised Shell UK on the disposal of the Brent Spar installation, a cause célèbre of the time. He has written on the Deepwater Horizon incident in the US and its implications for oil exploration in UK waters. Areas of his work include:

Marine Planning

Advising the MMO on the production of marine plans under the Marine and Coastal Management Act 2009.


Advice to various oil companies on the law relating to decommissioning of marine installations.

Radioactive Waste Disposal

Advice on the international law affecting sub-seabed disposal of radioactive waste.

Habitats & Nature Conservation

Advice on various projects and issues such as new nuclear development, ports and shipping – see the entry for Habitats above.

Offshore Wind

Advice both to offshore operators and to fishing associations as to the effects of offshore wind installations on navigation and offshore fisheries.

Marine Hazards

Stephen acted for South Hook Terminal Company in successfully defending challenges to permission for a new liquefied natural gas terminal at Milford Haven, against allegations that risk of vapour cloud explosion had not been properly assessed by the planning authorities and HSE: R (Hardy and others) v. Pembrokeshire County Council [2006] EWCA Civ 240 and [2007] EWCA Civ 1403.


Motto v. Trafigura (2009): advising the defendant, Trafigura, on the international hazardous waste law aspects of the claim for damages resulting from the deposit of oil wastes in the Ivory Coast, involving the interrelationship of the Basel Convention and MARPOL.


Acting for London Gateway Port on an action for alleged impacts of dredging on shellfishing.

Costa Concordia

Advising on claims arising from the salvage and disposal of waste from the Costa Concordia.

Nuisance Actions

Stephen has advised and acted in many nuisance cases, both private and statutory nuisance, covering matters such as odour, noise, dust, smoke, trees, Japanese Knotweed animals, sewer flooding and contamination of soil and groundwater. He has acted for both claimants and defendants, and for local authorities. There is also a significant transnational aspect to his work. Examples of his recent work are as follows:

Williams and Waistell v Network Rail Infrastructure [2018] EWCA Civ 1514, [2018] 3 WLR 1105

Stephen acted in the Court of Appeal for a successful claimant against Network Rail for failure to control Japanese Knotweed on its land in a landmark decision.

Barr v. Biffa Waste Services Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 312

Stephen acted in the Court of Appeal for group claimants in a successful appeal on the law and facts from an adverse first instance decision in a group action against a landfill operator for odour nuisance. The case is regarded as a landmark judgment on the modern law, restating key principles and rejecting an attempt to confine narrowly the parameters of nuisance.

Anslow v. Norton Aluminium Ltd (2012)

Acting for group claimants in the High Court in an action against a secondary aluminium smelting works and foundry for odour, dust, smoke and noise nuisance. The case was heard over a 6 week period in summer 2012 and the claimants succeeded in the claim for odour nuisance, obtaining substantial awards of damages.

Newham London Borough Council (2010 – 2012)

Advising and representing local authority in criminal and enforcement proceedings against animal rendering works for odour, including obtaining fines of £75,000 and £120,000 for breaches of permit conditions on odour. These are the largest fines yet obtained by a local authority under the Environmental Permitting regime.

Environment Agency v. Thames Water Utilities Limited (2011)

Stephen acted for Thames Water in criminal proceedings brought by the Agency under waste legislation in respect of the escape of sewage from the sewerage system. The case goes to the Divisional Court in November 2012.

Motto v. Trafigura (2009)

Stephen advised the defendant, Trafigura, on the international hazardous waste law aspects of the claim for damages resulting from the deposit of oil wastes in the Ivory Coast, involving the interrelationship of the Basel Convention and MARPOL.

Smart v. Filer (2009)

Stephen acted for the claimant in a claim in nuisance and Rylands v. Fletcher, for contamination of the claimant’s property by oil from illicit car breaking operation. The case settled during the course of the hearing in the TCC.

Powergen Renewables (2005)

Stephen acted for Powergen in successfully defending statutory nuisance proceedings in respect of low frequency noise from a windfarm (Lainson and Albion v. Powergen Renewables Limited)

London Borough Of Hounslow (2004)

Acting for the local authority in successful statutory nuisance proceedings against Thames Water Utilities for odour nuisance from Crossness Sewage Works, including the Divisional Court decision in London Borough of Hounslow v. Thames Water Utilities Limited [2003] EWHC 1197 (Admin) establishing that sewage works are “premises” for the purpose of statutory nuisance.

London Borough Of Bexley (2004)

Stephen acted for the local authority in successful statutory nuisance proceedings against Thames Water Utilities, in respect of odour nuisance from Crossness Sewage Works.

Planning & Infrastructure

Stephen is rated as a leading silk for planning work by Planning Magazine. He is the co-author of Planning Law, Practice and Precedents (loose-leaf, 1987). His work includes advising on proposals for major infrastructure projects, appearing at major planning inquiries, advising on environmental impact assessment and appropriate assessment. His experience goes back many years, dating back to 1988 when he advised Cleanaway Limited on its project for a hazardous waste pre-treatment plant at its Pitsea Landfill site, one of the first major projects to be subject to EIA in the UK. Examples of recent work include:

Environmental Impact Assessment

Stephen is recognised as a leading expert on environmental assessment. He was on the original Council of the Institute of Environmental Assessment when it was formed in 1992. He is the author of the leading legal text on environmental assessment: EIA Law (2nd edition, 2012). He has advised on EIA on numerous major projects including proposals for major waste management facilities, port projects and new nuclear power stations, and has appeared in some of the leading cases on the topic, including R (Edwards) v. Environment Agency [2008] UKHL 22, [2008] 1 WLR 1587, where he appeared successfully for Cemex, the interested party in the House of Lords.

Habitats & Protected Species

See the section on Habitats above.

Major Inquiries

Stephen is well-regarded by his peers and by inspectors as an inquiry advocate for the clarity of his approach and for his skills in leading teams. Some examples of recent large inquiries include: the 2011 Talbot Village public inquiry on called-in proposals for new housing close to Dorset Heathlands SAC and SPA areas, which considered habitats planning policy, the Dorset Heathland Interim Planning Framework, and appropriate assessment; and the 2009 Daventry Urban Extensions inquiry where he represented Northamptonshire County Council on linked inquiries for three major schemes.

Major Infrastructure Projects

Stephen has advised extensively on proposals for new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point and Sizewell and at Wylfa in Anglesey. He also advised Friends of the Earth in its objections to the proposed but now abandoned application for the Brig-y-Cwm energy from waste scheme. He has also worked on proposals for major port extensions, other energy from waste and renewable energy schemes, and waste water infrastructure.


Stephen is regarded highly as a leading practitioner in energy law, his work taking in oil and gas exploration, traditional coal fired power stations, nuclear energy, energy from waste projects, renewable energy in its various forms, and schemes such as carbon emissions trading, the Green Deal and other energy efficiency measures. Examples of his work are:

Industrial Emissions Control

Stephen has advised many of the major power generators on industrial emissions law, under the former Large Combustion Plant Directive and now the Industrial Emissions Directive. This includes highly strategic advice on policy and planning decisions turning on contentious points of interpretation of the Directives.

Energy From Waste

Stephen has advised on numerous energy-from-waste projects, including traditional plant using municipal waste, through to biomass schemes using wood pellet, straw, chicken litter and similar materials. This includes cases where farmers coal fired power stations are being converted. He also has substantial experience on waste-derived fuels (see section on Waste below). His work ranges from regulatory and planning matters through to contractual disputes on performance of plant: for example he acted for a local authority in a major dispute over a waste management contract relating to energy from waste which was settled at mediation (2011) and has acted more recently for another local authority in respect of a new incinerator /EFW plant.

Renewable Energy

Stephen has advised and acted on renewable energy projects in various contexts, including both onshore and offshore wind projects and projects for the use of landfill gas. This includes advice on issues relating to the Renewables Obligation and interpretation of the legislation. He has acted for promoters of major solar energy developments, both on planning appeals and in defending Judicial Review proceedings. He has acted for and represented a number of promoters of large scale solar projects.

Emissions Trading Schemes & Green Deal

Stephen has advised and acted on matters relating to the EU emissions trading scheme, and now advises on the Green Deal legislation on energy conservation. His clients are generally major generators or users of energy, such as power companies, cement works and other heavy industry and this area of work has a strong focus on European law. He appeared for Cemex UK in one of the earliest leading cases challenging the approach to allocation of emissions credits under the EUETS scheme: R (Cemex UK Cement Ltd) v. DEFRA [2006] EWHC 3207; [2007] Env LR 21, and acted for Total in its challenge to the European Commission’s allocation of allowances undue the current Emissions Trading Scheme. He has acted for a major lime producer on an appeal relating to the return of EU emissions trading allowances.

He has also advised a number of companies on eligibility for credits under schemes such as the Renewable Fuel Transport Obligation.


Stephen has advised DECC on legal issues arising from the Electricity Directives on interconnection between various parts of the UK. He has also acted in a test case (Stynes v. Western Power, 2012) on the correct approach to compensation for wayleaves for electricity conductors.

Nuclear Law

“He is an excellent barrister on nuclear and public law.” Chambers & Partners 2021

“What he doesn’t know about the nuclear industry isn’t worth knowing.”  Chambers & Partners

Stephen is regarded as the foremost expert on nuclear law at the Bar. He is author of the textbook, Nuclear Law (2nd edition, 2010, third edition in preperation) and is a member of the International Nuclear Law Association (INLA) and a director of the UK Branch of INLA. He has advised on nuclear new build both in the UK and elsewhere, on nuclear liability and insurance, on regulatory matters on licensing nuclear installations, the transport of nuclear and radioactive material, the use of radioactive sources, and the management of radioactive wastes. Often this involves advising on commercial agreements between parties in the supply chain. His involvement goes back to the mid-1990 when as a partner at Simmons & Simmons, he advised the Ministry of Defence on the privatisation of the Royal nuclear dockyards and the contractorisation of the Atomic Weapons Establishment. He is currently a member of the Government Advisory Committee on Radioactive Waste Management and in that capacity has given evidence to Parliamentary Select Committee. Examples of his recent work include:

EDF Energy – New Build

Advising on applications for new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point and Sizewell, particularly on issues of development consent and related permits, appropriate assessment and environmental impact assessment.

Horizon – New Build

Advising Horizon on licensing issues for nuclear build at Wylfa.

New Build – Justification

Acting for the Nuclear Industries Association in successfully defending a judicial review challenge to the justification of new types of reactor under the generic design assessment process: R (Walker) v. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (2011). Further advice on ongoing justification issues.

Clean Up

Stephen has advised on various issues relating to the decommissioning and clean up of nuclear sites.

Ministry Of Defence

Acting and advising on various matters including successful defence of infringement proceedings by the European Commission in two cases in the ECJ in respect of military uses of nuclear energy: Case C-61/03 Commission v. UK and Case C-65/04 Commission v. UK. Stephen has also advised on projects for nuclear submarine refit and for nuclear submarine decommissioning.

Insurance & Liability

Stephen has advised Nuclear Risk Insurers on various aspects of nuclear liability and in particular on the implications of implementing the Protocol to the Paris Convention on liability. He has advised DECC on a number of nuclear and financial security issues.


Advising parties in a consortium to construct, operate and provide refuelling services for nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates.

Imperial College London

Advising on legal issues relating to the decommissioning of the College’s research reactor.

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Advice on vires in the context of proposed contractual arrangements.

UK Nirex

Advice on the international law affecting sub-seabed disposal of radioactive waste.

Environment Agency

Advice on various aspect of the permitting of radioactive waste discharges and the control of high activity sealed sources.

Rail Transport

Advising on liability and contractual issues relating to the leasing of rolling stock used to transport nuclear waste.



The law relating to waste is a central part of Stephen’s practice. This includes advising on waste projects, disputes over the definition of waste, end-of-waste and by-products, contractual disputes, criminal proceedings and administrative proceedings. Further details of some of his work are as follows:

Waste Crime

Advising and representing companies faced with criminal proceedings for waste and hazardous waste offences. Notable cases have included acting for Paul Rackham Limited in a prosecution for the spreading of waste-derived fertiliser on agricultural land (R (Paul Rackham Limited) v. Swaffham Magistrates [2004] EWHC 1417 (Admin); acting for Thames Water Utilities on a prosecution for alleged deposit of waste as a result of sewer flooding (R (Thames Water Utilities Limited) v. Bromley Magistrates’ Court [2012] EWHC Admin; and acting for a company and its directors threatened with prosecution for alleged offences relating to treatment of hazardous waste.

Definition Of Waste

Stephen very frequently advises on the definition of waste, on end-of-waste status for recovered products, and on by-products. He appeared successfully in the Court of Appeal for the claimant on the leading UK case on the question of recovered products: R (OSS Group Limited) v. Environment Agency [2008] EWCA Civ 611. He has advised on many other materials such as pulverised fuel ash, various waste derived fuels, fertilisers derived from animal material and many other substitute raw materials and many other substitute raw materials. He has continued to advise numerous companies on the law relating to the distinction between waste and by products and recovered end of waste products.

Animal By-products

Stephen has advised on a number of occasions on the complex interrelationship between the law of waste and on animal by-products and on protective legislation on TSEs (transmissible spongiform encelphalopathies). He was involved in cases following the 2002 foot and mouth outbreak, such as R (Feakins) v. DEFRA [2003] EWCA Civ 1546, [2004] 1 WLR 1761.


Stephen has advised on numerous issues relating to the regulation of landfill sites, including appeals in relation to conditions, aftercare and financial security, long-term liabilities, and disputes between parties to lease and easement arrangements. He appeared in the Court of Appeal in the leading case on the definition of landfill: Blackland Park Exploration Limited v. Environment Agency [2003] EWCA Civ 1795.

International Movement Of Waste

Stephen has advised on various occasions on issues relating to transboundary waste movements. His cases include Motto v. Trafigura (2009) in which he advised the defendant, Trafigura, on the international hazardous waste law aspects of the claim for damages resulting from the deposit of oil wastes in the Ivory Coast, involving the interrelationship of the Basel Convention and MARPOL. He has also advised on the law relating to imports of inputs to a proposed major biofuel manufacturing facility in Hong Kong, and on transhipments of nuclear waste.

Contractual Disputes

Stephen has frequently advised both local authorities and waste companies on disputes arising from long-term waste management contracts, including PFI. He has also acted in disputes between parties in relation to royalty payments for the disposal of waste in landfill sites, for example 3C Waste Limited v. Mersey Waste Holdings [2006] EWHC 2598 (Comm) and in another dispute resolved at arbitration.

Waste Water

Stephen has acted for a number of water companies and sewerage undertakers in respect of legal issues arising from sewerage infrastructure. These include:

Northumbrian Water

Appeals on interceptor sewer and long sea outfall schemes.

Thames Water Utilities

Sewer flooding and the application of waste law to the deposit of sewage on land.

United Utilities

Test appeals under the Water Resources Act 1991 in respect of required improvements to inland and coastal combined sewer overflows.

Aerobic Digestion

Advice to various companies on the law relating to aerobic digestion of sewage and other sludge.

Water Resources

Stephen has dealt with a wide variety of matters relating to water resources. These include:

Contamination Of Groundwater

Stephen has advised both water companies and polluters as to the legal implications of groundwater contamination.

Canals & Reservoirs

Stephen has experience of advising on various issues on the law relating to canals, reservoirs and reservoir safety. These include:

Manchester Ship Canal v. United Utilities (Supreme Court, 2014) appearing for the Canal & Rivers Trust on leading cases on discharge of sewage to canals.

Canal & Rivers Trust v. Thames Water Utilities (Court of Appeal, 2018), acting for CRT on case concerning water abstraction rights from the River Lee.

R (The Heath & Hampstead & Society) v.Corporation of London (2014), leading case on reservoir safety.

Various other cases on reservoir safety and liability for escape of water.

Drinking Water

Stephen has assisted two water companies in investigations by the Drinking Water Inspectorate following cryptosporidium outbreaks.

Water Abstraction

Stephen has acted on appeals relating to water abstraction applications, for example for intensive livestock.

Water Supply

Stephen has advised on disputes relating to charges for the supply of water services, both water supply and drainage.

Water Resource Management

Advice for a major water supplier on its water resource management plan.


Stephen was named Environment & Planning Silk of the Year at the Chambers Bar Awards 2011 and is consistently recommended in both Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 for his work in Energy & Natural Resources and Environment.  Chambers & Partners also named Stephen in the Chambers 100, a list of the top 100 Silks practising at the Bar across all practice areas.

Planning Magazine’s legal survey ranks Stephen in their list of highly rated planning silks.

“He is an excellent barrister on nuclear and public law.” “He is a leading QC for the environmental regulation of energy infrastructure.” Chambers & Partners 2021

He is absolutely top class for any complex or novel issue and is the standout environmental barrister in the UK, if not globally.”Without doubt he is one of the standout nuclear energy barristers in the UK – he is commercial, responsive and has a fantastic grasp of the law.”  “Stephen has provided fantastic advice this year. He is incisive and thorough, and provides advice in a user-friendly form much appreciated by lawyers and clients alike.” Legal 500 2021

His experience and knowledge are phenomenal, as is his judgement; he always makes the right call.” “He has complete credibility with courts and tribunals, particularly on nuclear-related work.” Chambers & Partners 2019

“His knowledge is comprehensive and he is a very user-friendly barrister to work with.” “Really brilliant on environmental law.” “Very precise and persuasive on his feet.” Chambers & Partners 2019

“He is able to distil key points and offers clear, pragmatic advice that clients can follow.” “He is always a top-tier source of acumen.” Chambers & Partners 2019

Incredibly responsive, technically excellent and a pleasure to deal with.’ Legal 500 2018

Continues to reign supreme.’ Legal 500 2018

“He is without a doubt the best and most distinguished silk covering planning and environmental matters in the energy sector.” “He just has a marvellous ability to cut through technically complex issues to get to the substance of the matter. He’s someone who can think slightly differently and solve knotty problems.”  Chambers & Partners 2017

“He is a very shrewd operator with good judgement.” “Amazing and peerless.” “He is the star of the Environment Bar and nobody compares to him.” “He has real gravitas and is always the first port of call for serious and complex matters.” Chambers & Partners 2017

 “Still one of the leading brains in environment and planning law at the Bar.” “He’s very authoritative and very clever but also approachable and able to explain himself clearly and persuasively. He’s one of those old-fashioned persuasive advocates who speaks the judges’ language.” Chambers & Partners 2017

His technical knowledge is second to none.” Legal 500 2016

Very bright and quick to identify the key issues.” Legal 500 2016

“He is very helpful in interpreting contractual documentation.” Legal 500 2015

“An outstanding lawyer in environmental matters.” Legal 500 2015

“The first choice for nuclear planning and regulatory-related energy cases.” Legal 500 2015

“He is very good when it comes to those tricky technical questions.” “He has a straightforward style and presents arguments in a succinct, plain style.” Chambers & Partners 2015

“As good as it gets on technical nuclear matters.”
“Combines technical mastery with a modern, collegial and inclusive approach” Legal 500 2014

“He has an outstanding grasp of environmental law and an ability to give crystal-clear explanations.” “If you have an opinion with his name on, it is as good as you can get.”
“He is an extremely knowledgeable planning barrister.”
“Continues to dominate the nuclear sector and is incredibly impressive.” Chambers & Partners 2014

“a star of environmental law”
“an authority on matters relating to waste and landfill” Legal 500 2013

“the pre-eminent silk handling environmental matters at the Bar today”
“excellent advice, fine advocacy and superb cross-examining skills” Chambers & Partners 2012

“… is ‘the counsel of choice’ for environmental matters” Legal 500 2011, Environment
“A safe pair of hands”
“… is ‘extraordinarily bright’.” Legal 500 2011, Energy

‘”virtually in a league of his own” when it comes to water and waste work.’; is as good if not better than anybody around“; “his knowledge is unsurpassed and he is as polite and fair-minded an individual as you are likely to meet.” Chambers & Partners 2010

no-one comes even close” to rivalling the brilliance of Stephen Tromans, a barrister who is “remarkable at transforming incredibly complex themes into easy to digest, simple recommendations.” His expertise is complemented by an “affable, user-friendly” demeanour.

demonstrates tenacity, treats the judge as a human being and won’t be browbeaten“; He is said to know “every nook and cranny of environmental law… a true environmental specialist” Chambers & Partners 2008

the outstanding environmental lawyer” with an “encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject“; “demonstrable ability to handle energy matters of all varieties” Chambers & Partners 2007

one of the safest barristers to go to for environment work, he tackles a caseload covering the A-Z of environmental law with a technical knowledge that is unparalleled in the field“; “a safe pair of hands” “brilliant junior” with “first-rate” knowledge. Chambers & Partners 2006

His “enormous knowledge of environmental law is first rate,” and he is “outstanding in his ability to distil highly complex matters into simple points.” Chambers & Partners 2004

pioneer from year dot” in the Environment sector; Recognised for his “depth of knowledge in the subject matter,” and his “inherent credibility,”; known for a “personable approach” that compliments the “friendliness and quality of service” Legal 500 2009

“praised almost universally for his ‘encyclopaedic knowledge’ and ability to turn everything around within a couple of days.” Legal 500 2008

“Encyclopaedic knowledge” Legal 500 2007
exceptionally popular with instructing solicitors, who have ‘great regard for his advocacy skills and legal know-how’.” Legal 500 2006

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Barrister portfolio


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