Commenting on the news that Lord Gill the Lord President has announced a feasibility study into the creation of an Energy and Natural Resources Court in the Court of Session, Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

“We warmly welcome the Lord President’s announcement of a study into the creation of a specialist court for energy and natural resources. This work is very timely and can contribute to the Scottish Government’s manifesto commitment to consult broadly on options for an environmental court or tribunal.”

“Environmental law is increasingly complex, with huge issues that impact on everyone, such as climate change, at stake. It is right that environmental law merits specialist attention, and we look forward to feeding into the Lord Presidents’ study.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland has been calling for a specialist Environmental Court or Tribunal to be set up in order to help improve access to justice for individuals and communities who want to protect their environment. It could also go some way to improving Scotland’s compliance with obligations under the Aarhus Convention which requires states to ensure access to justice in environmental matters. The Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee is taking legal advice on the issue of Aarhus Compliance.

Notes to editors

1. Lord President’s announcement http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-31027822

2. Scotland is a signatory to the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters by way of UK and EU ratification. http://www.unece.org/env/pp/ratification.html

3. In July the 5th Meeting of Parties to the Aarhus Convention ruled that Scotland remains in breach of international law in relation to the high cost of legal action in environmental cases. The new decision against the UK requires Scotland to review its cost regime in relation to environmental cases. http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1852

4. 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, 74 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.