Land is a key economic resource for any human activity.

On land and on the activities carried out on it, multiple demands meet with ever greater intensity. Such demands originate from environmental, land-use planning or urban planning regulations which condition, restrict or even prohibit the use of land or certain activities. Regulatory requirements do have economic implications by conditioning the value of anticipated investments or by reducing or even wiping out the value investments already made.

The intervention of public authorities via the regulation of land use and the activities carried out on it from an environmental protection, land use or urban planning perspective is the result of the exercise of various powers allocated to the central government, regional governments or local authorities. Such powers restrict private property on the basis of its social function, as recognised by the Constitution. In some instances, environmental regulation, land-use planning or urban planning introduce elements of economic planning based on political opportunity only (i.e. the balance between public and private initiatives in the economy).

Whatever its rationale, public intervention resulting from the exercise of such powers has obvious economic consequences. Additionally, it results in a constant rethinking of the legal status of private property, to the point of making it completely unrecognisable in its classical conception.

Protecting property against such constraints requires monitoring the legality and adequacy of regulatory requirements laid down in environmental, land-use planning and urban planning regulations. And, where appropriate, it also requires ensuring that appropriate redress is available to any individuals affected by such constraints.

What we do

  • Advice at the drafting stage of environmental, land-use planning or urban planning regulations, including advice on the urban planning and implementation instruments approved under such regulations.
  • Challenging environmental, land-use or urban planning regulations and any planning and implementation instruments approved thereunder.
  • Environmental impact assessment of projects, plans and programmes.
  • Classified activities and integrated pollution prevention and control.
  • Protected natural spaces.
  • Protection of natural resources and biodiversity.
  • Contaminated land.
  • Flooded land.
  • Spills.
  • Noise and acoustic pollution.
  • Atmospheric emissions.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions trading
  • Management of risks associated to chemical substances (REACH).  
  • Environmental liability, including criminal liability.

Our team

Ramón y Cajal Abogados has a team of lawyers specialised in monitoring the legality of environmental, land-use planning and urban planning regulations with an impact on land ownership or the development of economic activities and their specific application. We are also specialists in safeguarding the economic interests of individuals whose economic rights are affected by these regulations. This work is conducted via administrative and court channels.

Our lawyers guide companies and individuals in their investment projects advising on how to select the most suitable solution in light of environmental, land use and urban planning regulations. Our lawyers also perform environmental audits focused on the detection of regulatory, reputational or economic risks in accordance with the ISO 14000 standard or the European EMAS Regulation.

Assisted by leading environmental and economic experts, we offer our clients comprehensive advice to challenge, where appropriate, environmental grounds and substantiate the amount of any available compensation. 

Our Environment, Land Use and Urban Planning team has had its work endorsed by a large number of court rulings that have annulled plans and decisions containing serious limitations on the lawful economic interests of individuals and companies. The team has also been successful in securing substantial awards. 

Our team also includes experts in Environmental Criminal Law and in the drafting of regulatory compliance plans.

Our expertise

  • Annulling the coastal corridor protection plan of an autonomous community.
  • Cancelling the hydrological plan of a river basin district
  • Cancelling the flood risk management plan of a river basin.
  • Challenging a flood risk map.
  • Challenging the enlargement of a protected natural space (control of environmental grounds)
  • Challenging the extension of a Site of Community Importance or SCI (control of environmental grounds)
  • Challenging  the refusal of integrated environmental authorisation due to SCI concerns related to the activity of a mining industry (control of environmental grounds).
  • Annulment of an urban planning instrument due to lack of proper justification.
  • Challenging an urban planning instrument for lack of proper substantiation. Claim for damages due to an improper limitation of property rights.
  • Challenging limitations on the use of property for environmental and water resource availability reasons. Request for compensation.
  • Challenging a decision of the Council of Ministers on the free allocation of greenhouse gas emission allowances to an industrial producer.
  • Advice in relation to toxic sludge cleaning works deposited in the public hydraulic domain.
  • Obtaining compensation for improper limitation of a business activity due to urban planning reasons (€165 million award obtained for actual damages and loss of earnings).