The Government is investigating the possibility of setting up an environment court.

Professor Malcolm Grant, who heads the Department of Land Economy at Cambridge University, has been appointed to examine specialist and integrated environment courts that have been established overseas.

Grant, who chairs the Local Government Commission for England and has edited a number of books on environmental law, said it was not simply a case of transposing an overseas model into an English and Welsh jurisdiction but rather looking at how present arrangements such as the Planning Inspectorate could be improved.

The research has been implemented in response to the increasing number of complex and expensive environment cases that are being dealt with by magistrates courts.

Stringer Saul environment partner Alan Ashley said he favoured the idea of an environmental court, but he doubted whether there was the political will to create it.