DEPARTMENT PROFILE

Terra Firma Chambers

Planning & Environment

6 ranked barristersBand 1Scotland (Bar)UK Bar 2021 View ranking table
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Terra Firma Chambers is a highly acclaimed stable for Scottish planning and environment work. Advocates at the stable appear in judicial reviews, as well as appeals to the Scottish Ministers on behalf of a wide range of clients such as developers, local authorities and energy companies. The stable's advocates often appear in cases of significant importance and local value, including a challenge to the Inverclyde Local Development Plan and claims for compensation for land taken for the Aberdeen city bypass. An impressed source comments: "The set has a real specialism in planning work and an abundance of advocates who are experts in the area."

Client service:

"The clerks understand their clients' needs and crucially understand who is the best placed to service those needs from within the stable. Practice manager Emma Caskie-Potter runs a very slick operation." "The clerks are incredibly helpful and go above and beyond to assist." "The clerking service is second to none. Emma leads a dedicated team who are always extremely helpful and knowledgeable."

Strengths:

Alasdair Burnet QC
Frequently appears in appeals and inquiries relating to residential, retail and leisure developments. He also handles renewable energy and infrastructure work, as well as planning disputes involving high-profile transportation projects.
"Alasdair is a very well-respected advocate who has a great grasp of planning issues. He is also delightful to deal with." "He is an experienced practitioner with great attention to detail." "He is incredibly bright, but also very composed. He uses his intelligence and broad knowledge base to get to the root of the issue very quickly and with very little fuss."
Recent work: Acted for Scottish Rural College in the first of a series of compensation claims in the Scottish Lands Tribunal as a result of land taken for the Aberdeen city bypass.

Strengths:

Douglas Armstrong QC
Highly respected for his work across a range of planning matters. He has particular expertise in matters relating to renewable energy and large-scale infrastructure projects, but also represents clients in the public and private sectors in connection with residential, retail, transportation and waste management projects.
"Douglas is the go-to silk for high-value planning inquiries and appeals to the Court of Session. He has the tremendous ability to zero in on the key issue and is a master tactician." "He is superb and he very quickly assimilates into the team."
Recent work: Represented Persimmon Homes in its challenge to a decision by the Scottish Ministers' Reporter regarding the former Kingspark School site in Dundee.

Strengths:

Gordon Steele QC
Highly commended for his vast experience and widely recognised as a longstanding planning and environment advocate. He has handled high-profile retail development matters as well as compulsory purchase cases.
"He has been at the forefront of planning work for many years." "He is incredibly experienced and knowledgeable." "He marries hard graft and commercial common sense to great effect."

Strengths:

Graham Dunlop
Experienced junior who regularly appears in planning inquiries and appeals for a wide range of public bodies, particularly local authorities. His recent work includes cases relating to transport, retail and renewable energy projects.
"He has a particular insight into how local authorities think and what is important to them." "Graham always delivers a high standard of service. He is responsive and great at communicating very difficult and complex issues."
Recent work: Acted for East Ayrshire Council in an appeal in the Court of Session regarding the rights of third parties to the planning permission where planning conditions require access to third-party land.

Strengths:

James Findlay QC
Renowned for his experience, knowledge and gravitas. He is experienced across the full range of planning and environmental law, and often appears in inquiries and higher courts. He is frequently instructed to bring and defend appeals involving planning permission, and is particularly well versed in planning disputes involving wind farms and other energy projects.
"He marries experience, intelligence, judgement and a strong work ethic with great effect." "His ability to grasp complex issues in such a short space of time always astonishes me. He is a straight shooter and I am never left in any doubt about his views on the important issues." "He is an exceptional planning silk; he's calm, focused, bright and incredibly personable."
Recent work: Successfully acted for Gladman in its challenge to the refusal of a planning appeal. The issues included sustainable development and the tilted balance principle.

Strengths:

Maurice O'Carroll
Seasoned junior with a substantial background in planning and environmental law. Conducts planning inquiries, judicial reviews and appeals spanning various sectors including renewable energy and residential property development.
"Maurice is very user-friendly." "He is very experienced and doing a number of bigger inquiries."
Recent work: Appeared on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council at the Blarghour wind farm inquiry to resist an application to develop 17 turbines on landscape and visual impact grounds.

Planning & Environment Department

Terra Firma Chambers

firm
Department location

Parliament House

High Street

Edinburgh

City of Edinburgh

UK

EH1 1RF

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Ranked Barristers

Chambers Research is conducted by 200 Research Analysts, across 200 jurisdictions and provides nearly 6,000 rankings tables. Annually we collect hundreds of thousands of responses from clients, the majority via in-depth interview. Learn more about our methodology.

Silks (QC)

Scotland (Bar)

Planning & Environment


Alasdair Burnet QC
New Silks
Douglas Armstrong QC
Band 1
Gordon Steele QC
Senior Statespeople
James Findlay QC
Band 1

Juniors

Scotland (Bar)

Planning & Environment


Graham Dunlop
Band 3
Maurice O'Carroll
Band 3