Author: Alice Whittaker, partner, Philip Lee Solicitors
The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) has just concluded a public consultation on Access to Justice and Implementation of Article 9 of the Aarhus Convention.
The Aarhus Convention guarantees rights to citizens to access information on the environment, and to participate in decision-making relating to the environment, including decisions to grant consent for projects and activities to be carried out which are likely to have a significant effect on the environment.
Underpinning these rights is the right found in Article 9 of the Convention to a review or appeal procedure to challenge the substantive and procedural legality of decisions, acts and omissions with respect to access to information requests, and the granting of consent for projects and activities covered by the Convention.
The Consultation on Article 9 is important for anyone interested in the access to environmental information and the development of projects likely to have significant effects on the environment. The Convention covers projects and activities requiring Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment, Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control/Industrial Emissions Directive (IPPC/IED) licences and other projects and activities likely to have a significant effect on the environment. This includes infrastructure, energy, waste, water and industrial projects and activities, and substantial accommodation projects.