A healthy environment is a basic right to which we are all entitled, 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.

We support individuals and communities to use their environmental rights in areas such as land-use planning, pollution control and conservation to protect the environment, so we work with allies to influence Scotland’s planning framework and helped set up the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland.

 

The odds are so stacked against ordinary people who want to challenge environmentally damaging decisions. Going to court has become a luxury that only the rich can afford.

Challenging bad decisions

Individuals and communities can often find that they haven’t been properly engaged in decisions that affect their area, or that decisions have been made that will adversely impact them and their surroundings.  Successive Scottish Governments have neglected the issue of access to justice for the environment.

There are plenty of high-profile examples of this, from Donald Trump’s golf course in Aberdeenshire, the planned coal-fired power station at Hunterston, the M74 motorway extension or the Coalbed Methane plans in Airth, Falkirk.  But when people try to legally challenge a poorly made decision or a damaging development, all kinds of barriers stand in the way.

Your right to be involved

Individuals, communities and groups 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 business and developers towards the communities who are most affected.

We campaign for legal changes to ensure that the right to a healthy environment is seen as a fundamental human right.  We are calling for Scotland’s full compliance with the Aarhus Convention, an international UN treaty that enshrines rights of participation, information and access to justice in environmental matters.

 

What we are doing

  • Working with allies, we helped establish the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland
  • The ERCS provides advice to those in need, education and advocates for environmental reform
  • Pushing for Scotland’s new National Planning Framework to help address the climate emergency
  • We have challenged big polluters like multinational petrochemicals company INEOS in court.

As we face the unprecedented challenges of the climate and nature emergencies, it’s more important than ever to protect the environment including going to court where necessary. People should not have to face impossible costs in doing so.

Mary Church, Head of Campaigns
rich country pay debt