An Taisce very critical of the Government's plan to shorten the period to take Judicial Reviews

7th February 2018
Press Release

The Government’s plan to shorten the period to initiate a Judicial Review in the case of Critical Infra-Structure from 8 to 4 weeks goes against key requirements of the Aarhus Convention.

Currently there is an 8 week window to make an application to the court for leave to Judicially Review planning decisions. Within that period you need to get hold of the decision and understand what legal issues there are with it, and to request information which you may need to inform your decision to challenge.

The Government also intending to increase the level of justifcation the public need to provide to have standing to entitle them to take such cases - so the burden will fall even more to eNGOs

There is talk about serial objectors - An Taisce have only taken 5 Judicial Reviews in the last 5 years all based on contravention of planning or various EU Directives – An Taisce won 3 of those and the other 2 are still before the courts.

An Taisce only take cases where we can demonstrate that Planning Rules/Guideline or EU Directives have been contravened, because taking a case where you don’t like a result costs time and doesn’t win.

Under Aarhus, An Taisce is entitled to "adequate and effective remedies ... and be fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive" and will fight to continue to be able to take well reasoned Judicial Reviews, in a reasonable timeframe.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
Ian Lumley, An Taisce Advocacy Officer: +353 1 454 1786
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Notes

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (commonly referred to as the Aarhus Convention) was adopted on 25 June 1998. Ireland ratified the Convention on 20 June 2012.

The Aarhus Convention lays down a set of basic rules to promote public involvement in environmental matters. The Convention has 3 pillars:

  1. Access to environmental information: This includes information on the state of the environment and/or on human health issues as well as information on policies and measures taken. Read more in our document on Access to environmental information.
  2. Public participation in environmental decision making: Members of the public have a right to participate in a range of decisions where there may be an environmental impact. These include planning matters and other environmental licensing decisions, such as foreshore licences, waste licences and Integrated Pollution Prevention Control licences. Public authorities responsible for decision making on such licences are obliged to publish notices on specific licence applications, which must inform the public on how they may participate. Comments submitted by the public are to be taken into consideration in the decision-making process.
  3. Access to justice in environmental matters: Members of the public and environmental non-governmental organisations have the right to seek a review of decisions that have been made which may affect the environment. The review procedures must provide “adequate and effective remedies ... and be fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive”.

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.