Access to Justice in Environmental Matters: the Aarhus Convention

Reading the Aarhus Convention today in relation to Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) Strategic Reinforcement Project I came across Article 6, Clause 3.  This says “… public participation procedures shall include reasonable time-frames for the different phases, allowing sufficient time for informing the public … and for the public to prepare and participate effectively …”

Concerned residents who find themselves either inside SPENs preferred corridor or within 1km of the corridor have been given a few weeks to respond otherwise their comments may not be considered.  This is not a reasonable time-frame particularly as this is the holiday season and people may be away but more to the point, SPEN have worked on and prepared for this project for several years and yet the public are being given only weeks.

Article 6 also contains a second clause, Clause 4, which is of interest too.  This says “Each party shall provide for early public participation, when all options are open and effective public participation can take place.”

Clearly this clause has not been followed either because SPEN have closed the options down and are asking residents within or close to the preferred route to comment on their preference.

It’s time for bodies such as SPEN to observe the convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.

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