Careful long-term readers of this blog will have been in a better position than most to understand the significance of the court action being taken by Client Earth, FoE and RSPB in relation to the UK government deciding to ignore its obligations to provide access to environmental justice for its citizens under the Aarhus Convention.
See The UK and environmental democracy- the Aarhus end of nowhere, Guest Blog by Carol Day, 7 May 2013; Fifty shades of Grayling, Guest Blog by Carol Day, 14 March 2014; Government attacks your right to environmental justice, December 2015; Lawyers accuse MoJ of undermining people’s rights to challenge environmental projects, 17 November 2016.
All dry stuff – but important nonetheless.
Client Earth, FoE and the RSPB are taking the government to court over this matter, as you may have heard on the Today programme this morning and can read about here.
The guy from Client Earth was very good on the radio. Although Aarhus is a place in the EU the convention named after it is an international convention not part of EU law. However, after Brexit the backstop of appealing to EU law will disappear, and therefore we might expect any environmental NGOs with a bit of gumption even now to be saving up for the costs of restraining the UK’s four governments in their home courts when they stray (as they surely will). The Westminster government’s moves to remove the cost cap on such actions will make this a riskier business and is likely to put it out of the bounds of normal people like you and me. So normal people like you and me will have lost the protection of EU membership for our environment, and will have lost the cost-effective option of challenging our government in the courts – unless we are unusually rich. We will therefore have to rely on environmental NGOs, who have more resources than we do, to take these cases, but they too will have lost the cost cap and so even when, under rare circumstances, they can screw their courage to the sticking place, they might be worried about the financial cost.