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Environmental Law Foundation
History and Background


Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) was launched in January 1992 by a group of lawyers, scientists and environmentalists including solicitor Martin Polden OBE, environmentalist, Diana Schumacher and scientist, Professor David Hall.

ELF came into being from the recognition that there exists a profound disparity between the professional resources and expertise available to those largely responsible for polluting and damaging the environment compared with those available to the people and communities who live with the adverse impacts for years to come. 

ELF was established on the premise that:

■a sound, healthy and sustainable environment is a pre-requisite for securing the basic human right to a fair and just society; and
■a cross disciplinary approach of skills and expertise is essential to address diverse and complex environmental concerns where both legal and scientific knowledge is required. 


ELF supports the fundamental and urgent requirement that everyone, our children, grandchildren and all future generations should live without harm to other living things or damage to the ecological balance of the planet. ELF’s contribution is in the empowerment of communities by providing a cross-disciplinary means of action ensuring that people have a voice in protecting and improving their environment.

Purpose and Aims
ELF’s purpose is to secure access to environmental justice and so social justice for all with the aim of: 

■Helping communities and individuals to be aware of their environmental rights and how to use those rights;
■Empowering people to have a voice in decisions that affect their environment and quality of life;
■Enabling communities and individuals to use the law to protect and improve their environment;
■Sharing and developing expertise in law and practice to improve access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. 

Since ELF started in 1992, it has delivered immense benefits to individuals and community groups across the UK by:

■responding to more than 11,000 enquiries from the public;
■referring over 2,400 cases for free expert help, from local planning enquiries to cases in the House  of Lords;
■levering in free legal and technical advice to a fee value in excess of £100,000 per annum;
■delivering benefits to more than 2 million people as each environmental concern adversely affects whole communities and not just the individual enquirer;
■enabling access to justice in environmental matters for those suffering most from the effects of pollution or a poor environment or neighbourhood

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