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Environmental law is a substantial and complex subject, largely in the form of public regulation designed to prevent, or at least reduce pollution at source. Nevertheless, from time to time accidents occur with devastating consequences for the environment and the private interests which vest in it.;In Europe, the names ""Seveso"" and ""Braer"" are synonymous with catastrophic environmental disasters. In North America, the ""Exxon valdez"" disaster achieved global notoriety as a symbol of modern industry's recklessness in its treatment of the environment. Cases of this nature have highlighted the impact of environmental damage on private interests and have focused attention on the law of tort in this context.;By adopting a theoretical and comparative approach, the author has endeavoured to answer the basic question of whether, through increased protection of private interests, tort has the ability to provide a useful additional means of environmental protection.