Scotland’s leading environmental organisation will this evening challenge the Scottish Government on the issue of access to environmental justice.

Friends of the Earth Scotland will challenge the Scottish Government to reduce the high costs and other barriers that deter individuals and communities from taking legal action against environmentally damaging decisions. The organisation will do so at the launch event of the report “Tipping the Scales”., which is targeted at MSPs and legal stakeholders.

Friends of the Earth Scotland is calling on Scottish Ministers to introduce an Environmental Justice Act to fully enshrine the requirements of the Aarhus Convention in Scottish law.

Mary Church, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“The odds are so stacked against the ordinary citizen who wants to challenge an environmentally damaging decision or act, that going to court to defend people’s rights to a healthy and clean environment has become a luxury that effectively only the very time and money rich can afford.

“With climate change now widely recognised as one of the most serious threats to humankind, and world-leading climate legislation in place here in Scotland, the Scottish Government has the opportunity to introduce a progressive legislative framework enabling individuals, communities and NGOs to stand up for our environment – and we challenge it to do so.”

Scotland is obliged by European law to comply with the Aarhus Convention, and legislation is in place in Scotland to deliver the first two of the three ‘pillars’ of the Convention – access to information and public participation in decision-making. However, Scotland falls considerably short of meeting its obligation under the third ‘pillar’ – access to justice in environmental matters.

Examples of this can be seen throughout Scotland, where local communities are challenging poor and environmentally-damaging decisions made by the Scottish Government and others, such as to allow Donald Trump to build his golf course on the Menie Estate, the ongoing proposal to build the Aberdeen Bypass, and the decision by Scottish ministers to include the Hunterston coal-fired power station in the National Planning Framework.

This evening’s event will be attended and addressed by a number of representatives, from local communities and groups involved in the campaigns mentioned above, as well as MSPs.

Members of the media are welcome to attend the event, which will take place in the Holyrood Suite at the MacDonald Holyrood Hotel, 81 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh between 6.00pm and 7.30pm this evening (Tuesday 14 June 2011)

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland t: 0131 243 2719

Notes to Editors

Download the “Tipping the Scales” report here:
www.foe-scotland.org.uk/tippingthescales

What is the Aarhus Convention? Introduction here:
www.unece.org/env/pp/

Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk