"He's a strong advocate and very knowledgeable." "He's really assured and knows his stuff."

― Chambers UK Bar Guide [2022]
William Upton QC
Call: 1990 | QC: 2019
Direct access

William Upton QC specialises in planning, environmental and local government law. His experience ranges across the civil and criminal courts, as well as planning inquiries. He has acted for local authorities, the Environment Agency, private developers and third parties. He has a particular interest in the overlap between planning and environmental law, and the regulatory control of land use. He leads the Public, Planning and Environmental Law team in chambers.

William has been recommended as a leading barrister for both environment and planning in both the Chambers & Partners UK Bar Guide and the Legal 500 for many years. He is also named in the Best Lawyers in the UK (2023 edition) list for Environmental Law. He was the winner of the Planning/Environment Junior of the Year at the 2014 Chambers & Partners UK Bar Awards. He was a Member of the Raynsford Review of Planning task force (TCPA).

He regularly provides seminars to the planning and environment sectors, and recent topics have included the 2020 Planning White Paper, the revised NPPF, Environmental Impact Assessment, flooding, an overview on nuisance law, Obstacles to Infrastructure Planning, DMMO and Caselaw Updates on Rights of Way, and, ‘What the Frack?’ (fracking and planning).

A major part of 2014-2015 was spent on Lawrence v Fen Tigers Ltd and others [2014] UKSC 13 (noise nuisance from motorsports), in which the Supreme Court significantly reviewed the law on private nuisance, including its relationship with the planning regime. The second hearing was held in May 2014, [2014] UKSC 46, on the issues of the landlord’s responsibility for the nuisance and the potential unfairness of the costs (CFA and ATE insurance). The third hearing was heard in February 2015 [2015] UKSC 50, on the potential incompatibility of the costs regime with human rights, and there were 8 intervening parties including the Secretary of State for Justice, the Bar Council, and the Law Society. William was involved at the Court of Appeal and the High Court stages, and was the original counsel in the case.

Other recent court cases have included Swale BC v Secretary of State for Housing and Local Government and another [2020] EWHC 3482 (Admin) (costs issues on planning appeal), Cooper Estates v Tunbridge Wells BC [2017] (reasons in Local Plan reports), R (Birchall Gardens LLP & Tarmac) v Herts County Council [2016] EWHC 2795 (Admin) (planning, natural justice and costs), Thomas v Merthyr Tydfil Motor Car Auction [2014] Env. L.R. 4 (noise nuisance), R (on the app of Perry) v London Borough of Hackney and another (planning and issues over the confidential viability assessment), [2014] EWHC 3499 and [2014] EWCA Civ 1372 (disclosure).

His planning work has included the skyscraper developments at Lambeth Bondway and Vauxhall Cross planning inquiries, as well as advising and arguing about housing land supply and viability issues at planning inquiries.

Many local authorities have instructed him on their development plan work, following his work on the adoption of the first DPD in England back in 2007 (for Maidstone Borough Council). He has promoted 14 development plan documents to date and 2 CIL examinations. His work has included the Examinations into the Swale Local Plan (2016 and 2017), West Berkshire Site Allocations DPD (2016), West Berkshire Council Core Strategy (2012), the Greater Norwich Area Joint Core Strategy (2010/2011) and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Core Strategy (2010). He acted for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on its Community Infrastructure Levy examinations (2014), including issues relating to Crossrail funding and new development at Canary Wharf, and for the CIL examination by the London Borough of Hackney.

Recent advice on Environmental Permits has included dealing with revocation appeals, and the judicial review challenge to the removal of the waste management exemption that failed to comply with the Waste Framework Directive Objectives. He has also advised extensively on flood rights, highways, rights of way, commons and navigation law issues. He appeared for the Environment Agency in the Hampstead Heath Ponds case, R (on the application of the Heath & Hampstead Society v Mayor and City of London and the Environment Agency [2014] EWHC 3868 (Admin), particularly to deal with the issues of safety and the Reservoirs Act (as recently amended). Rights of way cases have included Wild v Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs [2010] 2 E.G. 85, CA, and Elveden Farms v Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs [2012] All ER (D) 183 (Jan). These areas also raise many enforcement and regulatory issues, and William has also found himself defending food safety issues at Smithfield market.

He was Secretary of the Planning Environmental Law Bar Association Committee (PEBA, 2013-2018), and is a former Council member of UKELA. He convened the UKELA Planning and Sustainable Development Working Party until 2015. He was also appointed to the Attorney General’s Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown (Civil, 2003-2013).

Leading Individual

Recommendations

"A strong advocate and a genuine expert in environmental law, he has excellent client skills, well-honed judgment and remarkable analytical skills."

― Legal 500 [2022]

"He's a strong advocate and very knowledgeable." "He's really assured and knows his stuff."

― Chambers UK Bar Guide [2022]

Nominated by Legal 500 for Real Estate, Environment and Planning Junior of the Year

― Legal 500 UK Bar Awards [2018]

“Highly intelligent – what really sets him apart is his ability to understand a problem from all angles”

“He is very measured, gets on very well with clients and explains things clearly”

― Legal 500 [2016]

Winner - Environment/Planning Junior of the Year

― Chambers UK Bar Awards [2014]

"He has a forensic mind, and is quick to get to the heart of any case."

"A strong advocate who knows environmental law inside out."

― Legal 500 [2015]
Leading Individual

Appointments

  • List of Regulatory Advocates in Health and Safety and Environmental Law – List A (until appointed silk)
  • Member of the Raynsford Review of Planning task force (TCPA)
  • Secretary of the Planning and Environment Bar Association (“PEBA”; 2013-2018)

Publications

“Adapt or die”: how might the law respond in the face of extreme climate warnings?’ J.P.L. 2022, 4, 459-470

“A Practical Guide to the Law of Flood Protection and Flood Claims”
Lawbrief, July 2021

“What is the Purpose of Planning Policy? Reflections on the Revised National Planning Policy Framework 2018”
Journal of Environmental Law, March 2019

“Examining Local Plan reasons”
Local Government Lawyer, 23 February 2017

“Managing housing growth and the environment – a fair balance or not?”
UKELA e-law journal, Nov/Dec 2016, discussing the tensions inherent in giving housing delivery priority in the planning system. This follows on from his speech to the TCPA Annual Conference on 24th November, and the joint UKELA/PEBA seminar on 6th October 2016.

“Flooding and legal liability: Flood me, Flood me not ”
UKELA e-law journal, Nov-Dec 2014

“Water and Flooding chapter”
Garners Encyclopaedia of Environmental Law (109 edition, December 2014)

“Will the Jackson reforms improve claimants’ positions in Aarhus cases?”
March 2013
Published by Lexis PSL Environment on 22 March, 2013

“Neighbours and the Law”
Co-author 5th edition, 2009
Sweet and Maxwell

“Environmental Law”
Editor, 1st and 2nd editions 2009
Oxford University Press

“Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents”
Joint Editor 2007
Town and Country Planning

Memberships

  • Administrative Law Bar Association
  • Planning and Environment Bar Association
  • South Eastern Circuit
  • UK Environmental Law Association

Education

M.A., LL.M. (Trinity College, Cambridge, 1988 and 1989)

Latest news

26th November 2021

Discounts of 25% on books by Six Pump Court authors

Today (Friday), Law Brief will be running a Black Friday discount of 25% for all books available on their website.

3rd September 2021

DMMO Applications webinar

The first webinar in our Public Rights of Way series will cover DMMO Applications and be held on 6th September.

14th July 2021

Public rights of way webinar series

Six Pump Court Chambers will be presenting a series of three webinars on public rights of way.

12th July 2021

New book on flood claims

This book entitled ‘A Practical Guide to the Law of Flood Protection and Flood Claims’ by William Upton QC was published this week.

16th June 2021

Planning Law Update – 28th June

We are very pleased to be hosting a Planning Law Update webinar this month.

28th June 2019

Six Pump Court barristers recognised in the Best Lawyers in the UK 2020

Stephen Hockman QC, David Travers QC, William Upton QC and Mark Harris feature in the latest edition of The Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom.

1st February 2019

Clean air strategy 2019—raising difficult expectations?

In an article for Lexis PSL, William Upton, considers the key features and future impact of the government’s clean air strategy 2019.

10th January 2019

William Upton to be appointed Queen’s Counsel

Chambers is delighted to announce that William Upton is to be appointed Queen’s Counsel.

21st November 2018

Planning 2020 – the Raynsford Review

The final report of the Raynsford Review of Planning in England was launched on 20 November by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA).

6th July 2018

Nuisance from barbecues

A settlement in the nuisance claim brought by Highbury Fields residents in Highbury Magistrates’ Court over barbecuing in the Fields has been reached.

20th April 2018

Can highway land become a Village Green?

William Upton has just completed a village green public inquiry where the applicant disputed the status of the land as highway verge, and also argued that any highway use would not be incompatible with it being a village green as well.

4th December 2017

Air pollution law after Brexit

William Upton is addressing the Investigation of Air Pollution Standing Conference (IAPSC) today on the implications of Brexit on air quality legislation in the UK.

24th November 2017

Six Pump Court receives four nominations in Legal 500 UK Bar Awards 2018

Six Pump Court Chambers has received four nominations in the Legal 500 UK Bar Awards 2018 shortlist.

6th September 2017

The weaknesses in the revised air quality national plan

In an article for LexisNexis PSL, William Upton assesses the main features of the government’s revised plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution.

29th June 2017

William Upton and Megan Thomas speaking at RTPI Planning Law Update Conference

William Upton and Megan Thomas are speaking at the RTPI Planning Law Update Conference in London today.

16th May 2017

Flood Defence and Pollution Control: Statutory Powers and Compensation

Six Pump Court presents the second in our series of environmental and public law seminars to be held this year: Flood Defence and Pollution...

5th April 2017

Planning enforcement and abandoned moorings 

The curtain has finally come down on the long-running planning enforcement case where William Upton has been advising the Broads Authority on the unlawful...

29th March 2017

Six Pump Court barristers recognised in this year’s Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers was established in the USA in 1983 and describes itself as “the oldest and most highly-respected peer review guide to the legal...

21st March 2017

William Upton and Megan Thomas to speak at forthcoming PEBA National Conference

William Upton and Megan Thomas will be amongst the speakers at this year’s PEBA National Conference which will take place in May in London....

1st March 2017

Challenging Costs limits in Aarhus Convention claims

The CPR rules on ‘Aarhus Convention Claims’ have just changed.  William Upton explains how the neat simplicity of the provisions have been replaced by...

27th February 2017

Examining Local Plan Reasons and Inspectors’ Guidelines

William Upton discusses the Planning Court’s recent judgment on the approach taken by the Inspectors’ guidelines when reporting on the soundness of development plans...

14th February 2017

Local Plan Reasons

The Planning Court has upheld the approach taken by the Inspectors’ guidelines to using short form reasoning when reporting on the soundness of development...

2nd December 2016

Housing Growth and the Environment

The tensions inherent in giving housing delivery priority in the planning system have been discussed by William Upton in the latest edition of UKELA’s...

14th November 2016

Waste, planning and Aarhus costs

William Upton and Emmaline Lambert have successfully defended a waste recycling facility permission next to a proposed new ‘garden suburb’. The Judicial Review proceedings...

15th June 2016

Private Nuisance Litigation Masterclass – Seminar

Our series of Masterclass Environmental Law Seminars continues next month with a second seminar,  Private Nuisance Litigation Masterclass to be held on 11th July....

27th January 2016

Best Lawyers UK recognises leading individuals at Six Pump Court Chambers

Best Lawyers was established in the USA in 1983 and describes itself as “the oldest and most highly-respected peer review guide to the legal...

17th November 2015

Practical Planning Issues Deriving from EU Directives (EIA, SEA and Habitats): A Seminar

Six Pump Court presents the fourth in our series of environmental law seminars to be held this year: Practical Planning Issues Deriving from EU...

5th October 2015

Planning Policy Under the New Government – a briefing

At a Westminster Briefing event entitled ‘Planning Policy under the new Government’ on 29th September, William Upton outlined the planning reforms currently underway and...

7th August 2015

Enforcement against moorings

The Broads Authority’s enforcement action against the unlawful use of an old boatyard basin for private mooring has been upheld in the Planning Court,...

22nd July 2015

Final costs judgment given by UKSC in Coventry v Lawrence

The long-awaited judgment from the Supreme Court on the lawfulness of CFA and ATE funding arrangements was handed down today.  Stephen Hockman QC and...

13th April 2015

Members of Planning Team ranked in Planning Law Survey

Members of Six Pump Court's Planning Team have been ranked highly in the annual Planning Law Survey for 2015. William Upton, Mark Beard and...

19th March 2015

Council without an Objectively Assessed Need wins

A development of up to 210 houses has been refused on appeal in West Berkshire, even though the Council’s plan is not based on...

3rd March 2015

Six Pump Court barristers recognised in Who’s Who Legal 2015

Six Pump Court’s environmental law barristers have been recognised in the latest Who’s Who Legal which provides an analysis of the leading barristers and...

9th February 2015

Costs and Human Rights

The third hearing in Coventry v Lawrence on the potential incompatibility of the costs regime with human rights is due to be heard on...

25th November 2014

Flooding and legal liability

William Upton has been named in the latest edition of UKELA's e-law as one of its Star Members in recognition of his outstanding contribution...

24th October 2014

William Upton and Emmaline Lambert successfully represent London Borough of Hackney in separate claims for judicial review of two planning permissions

William Upton and Emmaline Lambert have successfully represented the London Borough of Hackney in separate claims for judicial review of two planning permissions.  The...

5th October 2014

West Berkshire Core Strategy & Sandleford Down found “sound”

After a protracted examination (with two suspension periods), the Inspector appointed to examine the Core Strategy for West Berkshire has found that it is...

5th October 2014

Successful appeal by Ministry of Defence against plans for wind farm

William Upton has represented the Ministry of Defence in a successful appeal against plans for two separate wind farms which, it was argued, would interfere...

5th October 2014

Checklist prepared for those considering judicial review

Following recent changes to the rules on judicial review in planning decisions, William Upton and Nicholas Ostrowski have prepared a checklist for residents/groups who are considering challenging the...

5th October 2014

Stephen Hockman QC and William Upton instructed in significant environmental noise nuisance case

Stephen Hockman QC and William Upton will be representing the claimants in a highly significant environmental (noise) nuisance case - Lawrence v Fen Tigers, to be heard...

4th October 2014

Remitted Joint Core Strategy still found to be sound

The Inspector’s Report has been published recommending the adoption of the remitted parts of the Joint Core Strategy for the Greater Norwich area. This...

3rd October 2014

William Upton wins Environment and Planning Junior of the Year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2014

Six Pump Court congratulates William Upton who has been awarded Environment/Planning Junior of the Year in the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2014. A full...

29th September 2014

Mock Public Inquiry Training Event – 14th March

On 14th March 2014, 6 Pump Court will be hosting a Mock Public Inquiry in association with The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment,...

29th September 2014

Supreme Court reviews nuisance law – Coventry v Lawrence [2014] UKSC 13

The Supreme Court has today unanimously allowed the appeal of Kate Lawrence and Ray Shields. The appeal raised a number of important points in...

28th August 2014

Six Pump Court shortlisted for four awards in the Chambers UK Bar Awards

Six Pump Court is delighted to have been nominated for awards in four separate categories by the Chambers UK Bar Awards this year including Set...

15th August 2014

Costs uplifts and landlords’ liability in nuisance: Coventry v Lawrence (No.2)

The Supreme Court has ruled on the consequential issues arising from its earlier judgment. Stephen Hockman QC and William Upton continue to represent the appellants in this landmark...

21st July 2014

Nuisance – from Farnworth to Lawrence

Following on from the recent Supreme Court case on nuisance - Coventry v Lawrence, William Upton will be speaking about the case at a...

21st July 2014

Environmental Justice – Coventry v Lawrence and the law of nuisance

In an article for the 'Environmental Law Monthly', Nicholas Baldock summarises and comments on the implications of the recent Supreme Court judgment in Coventry v Lawrence and...

21st July 2014

William Upton – Lawyer of the Week in The Times

William Upton has been given the prestigious accolade “Lawyer of the Week” by The Times newspaper, regarding his involvement in the Coventry v Lawrence case...

21st July 2014

Members of Six Pump Court ranked in Planning newspaper’s 2013-2014 Planning Law Survey

Members of the Six Pump Court have been ranked highly in Planning newspaper’s annual Planning Law Survey for 2013-2014. Members featured in all three...

Events

30th June 2022

Planning Law Update

We are delighted to offer another in our series of Planning Law updates.

28th June 2021

Planning Law Update Webinar

We are very pleased to be hosting a Planning Law Update webinar this month.

Blog

16th February 2022

Environmental Law News Update: Feb 16, 2022

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, William Upton QC, Charles Morgan and Christopher Badger consider the UK's national reporting requirements for disclosure of climate change risks, a European study of the impact of Brexit on fisheries and aquaculture and an interesting decision on water rights in Mauritius.

19th January 2022

Environmental Law News Update: Jan 19, 2022

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, William Upton QC, Christopher Badger and Natasha Hausdorff consider a new government report on the climate risks facing the UK, the state of England's rivers and the extension of climate-related disclosure requirements by the FCA.

16th July 2021

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, William Upton QC and Charles Morgan consider consider a case concerning the consensual disposal of judicial review proceedings, developments near COMAH sites, the Southern Water saga and announce a new book on flood claims.

6th July 2021

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, William Upton QC and Noémi Byrd consider the countdown to Net Zero, the role of climate change in planning reforms and why complaints to the Office of Environmental Protection already matter.

15th June 2021

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, William Upton QC, Charles Morgan and Natasha Hausdorff consider lawful development certificates, the Environment Agency's National Waste Crime Agency and the dangers of sewage sludge.

24th July 2020

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, William Upton QC and Mark Davies consider a challenge from Plan B over the ‘unlawful allocation’ of Government and Bank of England funds, a commitment by Apple to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and liability for environmental damage from land drainage.

24th June 2020

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, Charles Morgan, Christopher Badger and Mark Davies consider the effectiveness of the Bathing Water Directive, the UK Citizens Climate Assembly's efforts to explore how the UK can achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and further caselaw on Aarhus costs capping orders in judicial review.

17th September 2019

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update William Upton QC, Christopher Badger and William McBarnet consider the implications of air quality factors in planning decisions, a recommendation for flexibility in local authority waste strategies and criticism from the Natural Capital Committee of DEFRA’s environmental “progress”.

9th July 2019

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, William Upton QC, Nicholas Ostrowski and Mark Davies consider Peter Kellett's UKELA presentation on how to achieve environmental compliance, the publication of the Environment Agency’s quarterly scorecard and the UK Government's new Green Finance Strategy.

8th May 2019

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, William Upton QC, Charles Morgan and Mark Davies consider the recent confusion over licensing exemptions for wild birds, Labour's proposals for the water industry and the decline in nature and acceleration of species extinction highlighted in a report from the IPBES.

16th April 2019

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, Stephen Hockman QC, William Upton QC, Charles Morgan, Gordon Wignall, and Ana Kantzelis consider the inclusion of environmental considerations in IIAs, the treatment of environmental protestors in the civil courts, the duty of care in respect of environmental activities of companies at home and abroad, and publication of new EA guidance containing an extended list of convictions for assessing permit competence.

14th January 2019

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, Christopher Badger and Charles Morgan consider the government's 2019 Clean Air Strategy, financial penalties for a water company supplying polluted drinking water and an updated framework for the disposal of radioactive waste.

Contact my clerks

Ryan Barrow

Ryan Barrow

First Junior Clerk