Local MSP John Finnie, Scottish Greens, has asked why the Scottish Government is against creating a specialist environmental court, or tribunal, when the UK leaves the European Union.
John Finnie said:
“Last week, the Scottish Government announced that it will not establish an environmental court or tribunal. When we leave the European Union we will lose the oversight of the European Court of Justice, a court that has played a key role monitoring and enforcing environmental obligations.
“The legal system of the UK does not allow us to fully replace the ECJ, yet an environmental court here in Scotland would go a long way to patching the regulatory framework about to be torn apart by Brexit, particularly in providing for legal expertise on environmental issues.
“Scotland must establish a new Environmental Court to replace the functions currently fulfilled by the European Court of Justice, along with a new Environment Commissioner with powers to hold the government to account on its environmental commitments. It’s puzzling why the First Minister does not agree.”
Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland said:
“Currently, if communities try to challenge damaging developments they face huge costs and significant barriers to do so. For too long taking legal action to protect the environment in Scotland has been a luxury that effectively only the time and money rich can afford, while the chances of getting a ruling from the Scottish court system that actually fixes the harm is slim.”
“Specialist environmental courts can reduce the cost of legal action for communities, developers and the public purse, level the playing field and speed up decision making. With huge issues like climate change at stake, environmental law is increasingly complex, and clearly requires a special forum. There are over a thousand environmental courts and tribunals worldwide, and the decisions of these courts tend result in better outcomes for the environment and stakeholders.”
In their response entitled, ‘Developments in Environmental Justice in Scotland’ the Scottish Government concludes:
“…..the Scottish Government does not consider it appropriate to set up a specialised environmental court or tribunal at present. “
The full report can be accessed here. Developments in environmental justice in Scotland