Noémi Byrd’s practice focuses on the law relating to the built and natural environment. She is equally at home in the civil and criminal spheres, and is particularly experienced in public inquiry work.
She is sought for her pragmatic advice and effective advocacy in a range of related areas, including : planning applications, determinations, and appeals; judicial and statutory planning review; licensing; highways; countryside access; tree and hedgerow protection; flood risk management; easements; nuisance; trespass.
Noémi has a longstanding specialism in public rights of way, advising in cases where rights of way and development proposals overlap, and acting for highway authorities and landowners in Definitive Map Modification Order applications.
Her clients are public authorities, SMEs, private individuals and community groups. Noémi welcomes direct public access instructions, and is experienced in acting directly for interested parties in planning matters. She accepts pro bono instructions in appropriate cases.
Between 2012 and 2020 Noémi was an Associate Member of chambers and not regularly practising as an advocate. While living abroad during this period, she completed an LLM in International Business Law. Noémi also qualified as an accredited advocacy trainer and lectured on the Bar Training Course in London. Before returning to full time practice in December 2020, Noémi worked on public interest matters in the planning sphere, including advice to non-governmental organisations on strategic climate litigation.
Noémi is instructed by local planning authorities (LPA), smaller-scale developers, individuals and interested parties in the following types of case:
- Public inquiries and hearings following appeal against refusal of planning permission;
- Prosecuting and defending planning and related enforcement matters in the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts, including Proceeds of Crime applications;
- Planning injunctions in the High Court;
- Planning statutory review in the High Court.
She has particular experience of working with LPAs on appeals against refusal of planning permission based on harm to biodiversity and ecology, and climate impacts.
Her recent inquiry and hearing work includes :
- Successfully defending the LPA’s refusal of planning permission for major leisure development (refusal based on harm to protected and priority species; habitats of principal importance; green infrastructure; conservation; landscape character) APP/W0340/W/20/3259296;
- Acting for third party objectors to groundworks for a nuclear power station (impact on protected and priority marine species – whether an ‘appropriate assessment’ required) APP/X1545/W/20/3259477;
- Representing the LPA at public inquiry into major housing development (including hearing on achieving nutrient neutrality – whether an ‘appropriate assessment’ required) APP/J2210/W/20/3260611;
- Representing ecology consultants before the CIEEM professional conduct panel;
- Acting for third party objectors to a gas-fired electricity plant, in support of the LPA’s climate harm reason for refusal, and in a claim for planning statutory review having secured funding from the Good Law Project (APP/U1105/W/20/3247638).
Recent advisory work includes :
- Advice to LPA on the continuation of planning injunctions pending appeal against enforcement notice;
- Advice to a community group objecting to major housing development proposed on a Site of Nature Conservation Interest;
- Advice to the LPA on its flood risk management obligations;
- Advice to the LPA on enforcement of developer’s undertakings relating to public open space on major housing development;
- Advice to developer on defending enforcement action for non-payment of Community Infrastructure Levy;
- Advice to the LPA on recovery of expenditure following the discovery of buried drainage features on LPA-owned land earmarked for development.
Noémi is also experienced in prosecuting and defending related criminal matters:
- Unauthorised works to a listed building (East Riding of Yorkshire Council v Hobson  EWHC 1003 (Admin)).
- Contravention of the Tree Preservation Regulations 2012.
- Contravention of the Hedgerows Regulations 1997.
Noémi welcomes requests to design and present in-house training on planning law and policy, for local authority and developer clients.
She co-authored the Wildy Practice Guide on ‘Planning Law and Practice’ with David Travers QC and Giles Atkinson (2013).
Noémi is frequently instructed by Highway Authorities and private clients to advise on powers and duties under the Highways Act 1980, and in particular on the difficulties that can arise where planning proposals necessitate the construction of new, or diversion / stopping up of existing, highways.
She has a long-standing specialism in Definitive Map Modification Orders under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, acting both for Order Making Authorities and landowners, and is a very experienced public inquiry advocate in this area of law.
As a cyclist and horse rider she understands the access and safety issues facing users of the rights of way network in rural areas.
Recent work includes :
- Successfully representing the landowner in objecting to a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO) adding a footpath running through her property (the Inspector accepted the landowner’s case that the route claimed was not a “way over land” but area over which the public wandered at will. ROW/3241912).
- Advice to an agricultural landowner on objecting to a DMMO adding a bridleway, restricted byway, and byway open to all traffic.
- Representing the Order Making Authority at public inquiry into a circular claimed route on a major residential development site, involving expert aerial photography evidence.
- Advice to developer on a contested highway adoption under s.228 Highways Act 1980.
Administrative & public
Noémi advises local authorities and other public bodies on the lawful exercise of their powers in a range of areas, from licensing to traffic regulation, and advises and represents claimants in proposed judicial review proceedings.
She is also experienced in the administrative law aspects of planning, i.e. statutory review under s.288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Related work is listed under the ‘Planning’ practice area.
Noémi advises and represents companies and private clients in land use related property disputes, for example interference with easements of access and parking, and private nuisance. She is experienced in advising and representing clients suffering from neighbour noise and encroachment / trespass.
Noémi often makes use of her planning expertise in this area, for example where a neighbour’s implementation of planning permission creates a nuisance. Recent work includes advising on and securing a temporary halt to works for a noise-sensitive commercial client in the High Court, pending further planning proceedings.
Noémi’s environmental law work overlaps substantially with her planning practice.
She is experienced in advising on the application of the Habitats Regulations, ss.40-41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, the protected species provisions in the Wildlife and Countryside Act, and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, to planning decisions. She is also very familiar with the use of Natural England’s standing protected species guidance in the determination of planning applications and appeals.
She has a particular interest in ecology reporting standards and has successfully argued that planning permission should be refused on the basis of (inter alia) inadequate ecology reports, and has also represented ecologists in front of the CIEEM professional conduct panel.
In addition to her planning enforcement practice, which includes related areas such as breach of Tree Protection Orders and unauthorised works to listed buildings, Noémi has experience of prosecuting and defending in her own right (on behalf of local authorities and private clients) and as junior counsel (on behalf of regulators) in the following areas of chambers’ regulatory work: Health and Safety, Food Standards and Trading Standards. She is also well versed in Proceeds of Crime applications.
Lord Justice Holt Award, Gray’s Inn (2004)
- Co-author of Wildy Practice Guide, ‘Planning Law and Practice’, published in March 2013.
- Contributor to ‘Environmental Law’, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition published in 2009.
- Hungarian (fluent)
- French (conversational)
- Dutch (basic)
- LLM International Business Law (BPP University Law School, 2017)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Law and Bar Vocational Course (BPP Law School, 2002-4)
- BA Hons. English Language and Literature (University of Oxford, 1996)