Government attacks your right to environmental justice

This blog has made occasional attempts to highlight the attacks by this government on access to environmental justice (eg Guest blog by Carol Day Fifty shades of Grayling, 14 March 2014 but also UK fails to provide citizens with access to environmental rights, 12 June 2015).

These matters are terribly dull but terribly important. They are also a bit technical, but here is an excellent summary of the issues from The Ecologist.

The government is running a consultation on the subject of reducing your ability to take legal action against decisions by, errr, government, and the consultation closes on Thursday.

I have responded to the consultation although it is not really aimed at normal people – even though it is exactly normal people who will be most affected by the proposed changes.

Here are my responses to help you on your way -I hope I have got them more or less right (I’m not entirely sure) – maybe it would have been a good idea if our NGOs had provided this information for us…

Organisation?: taxpayer and voter

1. No – you are attempting to restrict the scope of the legislation beyond what is intended in the Convention and beyond what I as a British citizen wish. What justification is there for restricting the scope only to EU legislation? None whatsoever! Why have you kept this plan so quiet?

2. No – You appear to be trying to limit the ability of members of the public to get together and take such cases. Of what exactly are you afraid? Why are you attempting to bend the Aarhus Convention in this way? You will lose legal cases on this in Europe and are therefore wasting my taxpayers’ money on this plan. Why are you attempting to limit my ability to challenge daft and illegal decisions by government – do you have some daft and/or illegal decisions planned?

3. No – Why you are suggesting this except to disadvantage the individual and to give advantage to the state if it wants to make illegal decisions and escape challenge from the public. This measure vastly increases the financial risk to a member of the public or group of the same as it makes them vulnerable to very high costs.

9. Leave them as they are or increase them.

14. You have not supplied a category for me to make this point so I will make it here. There is no evidence of vexatious claims under this legislation. The number of cases is very small. Why are you even thinking of changing the system? This is bureaucracy gone mad and state paranoia gone mad too. Leave it alone, and get on with something that is of use to the citizens of the UK rather than making spiteful attempts to limit their access to environmental justice.

This is a shocking example of government wasting resources to disadvantage its own citizens – whose idea was it and why is it being pursued?

Maybe you’d like to respond too – click here.

And maybe you would like to write to your MP – the last bit of the comments above might provide the gist of your comment to your MP – why is any of this happening when there is no proven need? Tory MPs in particular should find this a difficult question to avoid.



5 Replies to “Government attacks your right to environmental justice”

  1. Mark,

    Thanks for attempting to make this easier to understand, I am going to need help with all the other boxes too. I don’t know why this is aimed at organisations when its groups of individuals who are affected. How likely are ‘organisations’ to represent our interests? How is this in anyway accessible to us Joe Bloggses? Our ‘organisation’ of 5 will be expressing our views.

  2. Dear Mark and Rachel,
    Thank you very much for covering this issue. As you say, it isn’t the most exciting (try being the one selling it to journalists …) and as Rachel rightly points out, the questionnaire makes no attempt to help non-lawyers understand it. I’d just like to say that Friends of the Earth has produced a very helpful Guide to responding to the consultation exercise and Wildlife & Countryside Link have produced a briefing (links below this message). I am delighted to hear that you will be persevering Rachel – anyone who believes we have a right to challenge the decisions of public bodies that may be unlawful – be it a housing development, a fracking application or a third runway at Heathrow – should register their concerns. Let’s give the MOJ some unexpected Christmas reading!
    Carol Day, Solicitor.

    1. Cheers Carol

      Wish I had your faith that MOJ will spend their Christmas reading our responses, call me a sceptic (I’d prefer realist) but I suspect that the response has already been drafted.

      That said I applaud the sentiment that we should respond and will be doing so ahead of their deadline.

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