A healthy environment is a basic right which we are all entitled to, and should all be able to defend. We believe that individuals and environmental organisations should have the right to challenge decisions that will have a serious impact on our environment and that excessive costs and legal complexities should not stop them from doing so.
Individuals and communities often recognise that they haven’t been properly engaged in decisions that affect their environment, or that decisions have been made that will adversely impact on them. But when people try to legally challenge a badly made decision or a damaging development, all kinds of barriers stand in the way.
Plenty of high profile examples come to mind: Donald Trump’s golf course at Menie, the planned coal power station at Hunterston, the M74 extension and Dart Energy’s plans for Coalbed Methane at Airth to name only a few.
In fact, the odds are so stacked against the ordinary citizen or community who wants to challenge an environmentally damaging decision or act, that going to court to defend a healthy and clean environment has become a luxury that only the time-and-money-rich can afford.
We have a right to be involved in decision-making
We believe that individuals, communities and NGOs not only have the right to be involved in planning decisions that affect our environment, but the responsibility too.
When people are enabled to take part in decision-making, this helps to shift the balance of power away from big corporates and developers towards the communities who are affected by these decisions.
We are campaigning for legal changes to ensure that the right to a healthy environment is seen as a fundamental human right. We are calling for full compliance with the Aarhus Convention, an international treaty that enshrines rights of participation, information and access to justice in environmental matters.
Fracking in court
Ineos went to court to challenge the Scottish Government’s decision to ban fracking.
We made an unprecedented ‘public interest’ intervention in this case in support of the ban. We also set out why we think the Government is arguably required to act in this way to meet our climate commitments.
An Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland
An Environmental Rights Centre could play an important role in helping navigate through the complexities of the legal and planning system. By providing low-cost advice and access to lawyers, and taking strategic legal action, a law centre like this could help people and communities across Scotland to exercise their environmental rights more effectively, and push for stronger environmental protections.
An Environmental Court for Scotland
Specialist Environmental Courts or Tribunals can be a highly effective way to ensure better access to justice for citizens and communities trying to protect their environment. They can also provide a speedier, more cost-effective system, and a more level-playing field for developers and operators.
We are calling for a specialist environmental court or tribunal for Scotland that is rooted in Aarhus principles of environmental rights and protection.
The Aarhus Convention
The Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters is an inspirational UN treaty that establishes critical environmental rights.
The Convention recognises the link between the protection of human rights and the environment, and every person’s right to a healthy environment – as well as his or her duty to protect it. This applies not only to those of us living today, but to future generations as well.Learn more about the Aarhus Convention