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Environment, Agriculture & Conservation careers

Environmental Law & Policy

Why get involved with environmental law & policy?

Environmental law and policy go hand-in-hand. Both are incredibly important in protecting the environment from a legislative perspective.

What do these fields involve?

Environmental policy is focused on taking steps to prevent, limit or reduce any damaging effects to the environment that are caused by people or the changes that their actions bring. In the UK, this work is dominated by the government, local authorities and think-tanks.

The major bodies that create new policies and review existing policies are the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland.

Working in this field requires a good understanding of the existing issues and potential issues that may arise in the short, medium or long term on both a local and national level, such as global warming, changes in production and waste disposal.

For more information on environmental law, check out the Environmental Law subsector in our Law sector now!

What do environmental policy officers do?

The policy side of work in this subsector revolves around research and analysis. This research can be both qualitative and quantitative in nature and involves both scientific and non-scientific methods. The contentious nature of environmental concerns means that gathering the data can sometimes put people in hostile environments.

Often policies suggested or mooted by government agencies and think-tanks are adopted by the government and made into law. These laws are put in place to protect the environment in a range of different ways, from noisy neighbours and the disposal of chemicals and other waste products, to dealing with dog fouling.

In the UK, we also have to take into account European Community (E.C.) law, which imposes restrictions and rules on how people are allowed to interact with the environment. 

The legal side of this subsector is dominated by legally based occupations, such as solicitors or barristers. However, it also incorporates the work of people in local authorities who are charged with protecting the environment and checking that all appropriate environmental laws are being followed.

Wages vary greatly depending on what kind of role you choose, but public sector careers typically provide lower pay than similar private sector positions.

So, if you have a keen interest in the environment and you are interested in research, law, or working as part of the civil service, it may be worth exploring a career in environmental law and policy!