UKELA Energy Review Consultation Case
Feb 15, 2007
Consulting the public in environmental matters isn't a luxury says UKELA's Chairman Daniel Lawrence in response to Greenpeace's successful challenge to the Government's Energy Review.
The High Court finding today in the Greenpeace nuclear case shows that proper public consultation has become vital in environmental cases.
The UK Environmental Law Association has been pressing the government to ensure that an international agreement on access to environmental justice is properly implemented. In its decision, the High Court said the UK had signed up to the international convention and as a result "the development of policy in the environmental field is no longer a privilege to be given and withdrawn at will". The decision also has implications for the way the Government consults, including the content of the consultation documents and re-consulting on new information that emerges after the consultation period.
"This case shows that consulting the public in environmental matters isn't a luxury but essential. It is also essential that the Government goes about any consultation in a proper manner and this aspect of the judgment has implications for Government policy across the board", said Daniel Lawrence, UKELA's chairman. "The principles of providing the public with information, enabling them to participate in decision-making and having access to the courts have to be upheld."
The Court held that the decision in the July 2006 Energy Review to support nuclear new build breached Greenpeace's legitimate expectation to be fully consulted before such a decision was reached by the Government, and that the consultation process leading up to the decision was procedurally unfair and therefore the decision was unlawful.
The Government was granted leave to appeal in the case.
The chairman of the UK Environmental Law Association, Daniel Lawrence, is available for interview. Call 020 7859 1172.
The international agreement is the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. The United Nations says: "The subject of the Aarhus Convention goes to the heart of the relationship between people and governments. The Convention is not only an environmental agreement, it is also a Convention about government accountability, transparency and responsiveness".
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