An Taisce obtains leave for Appeal on Hinkley Point legal challenge

27th March 2014
Press Release

An Taisce - the National Trust for Ireland - today successfully obtained leave to take its Hinkley Point legal challenge to the Court of Appeal in London

At the end of a brief hearing in London this morning, An Taisce - the National Trust for Ireland - was granted leave to take its legal challenge regarding Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to the Court of Appeal. The case is likely to be heard before the end of the summer.

An Taisce argues that the UK government's decision to approve Hinkley Point C nuclear plant (on England's west coast) without first consulting the public in Ireland is contrary to international, EU and English law.

The High Court in London found against An Taisce's arguments in December 2013, ruling that there was no need to consult the public in Ireland in the circumstances.

However, earlier this month a UN Committee wrote to the UK government - having first considered the High Court's judgment and other evidence – stating that in failing to consult its neighbours, Hinkley Point raises "a profound suspicion of non-compliance" with international law (the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context).

This letter - on foot of a complaint to the Espoo Convention's Implementation Committee by Friends of the Irish Environment – provided strong support for the arguments advanced in An Taisce's legal challenge.

In light of this letter and An Taisce's arguments, Sullivan LJ concluded today that leave to take the case to the Court of Appeal should indeed be granted, overturning an earlier decision on the papers.

Commenting on today's decision, An Taisce's Natural Environment Officer and In-house solicitor Andrew Jackson said, "We've always felt we have a very strong case, even following the High Court's decision. We look forward to airing our arguments before the Court of Appeal. It's important to remember that this case is not about being pro or anti-nuclear. It's about the public's right to participate in decisions which could affect their lives - fundamental environmental democratic rights which are underpinned by international and EU law."

He continued, "We must thank our excellent legal team: Leigh Day solicitors and barristers David Wolfe QC and John Kenny BL. Credit is also due to Friends of the Irish Environment for their excellent work before the Espoo Convention's Implementation Committee. This is an important public interest case and we trust that the public's rights will ultimately be vindicated."

Notes:

The Espoo Convention Implementation Committee's letter to the UK government is here: http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/cmsfiles/Library/Committee-letter-19.03.14.pdf

The hearing is set for July 15 th and 16 th