Aarhus Compliance Committee rules against UK Government

The Aarhus Compliance Committee has issued its final decision in a case brought by Harrison Grant on behalf of Greenpeace.

Greenpeace had complained about the costs it was ordered to pay when it was refused permission to challenge the designation of the National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power following the accident at Fukishima. It claimed that the costs award at that stage of the proceedings were prohibitive and in breach of the access to justice provision of the Aarhus Convention.

The Compliance Committee has ruled that the UK has failed to comply with article 9(4) of the Convention as the cost order awarded against Harrison Grant’s client in this case made the procedure prohibitively expensive.

The Committee also noted  “The High Court maintained that the Convention was irrelevant in the proceedings before it. The Committee takes this opportunity to point out that the [UK Government], being a Party to the Convention, is bound by the Convention under international law and that the nature of its national legal system or lack of incorporation of the Convention in national law are not arguments that it can successfully avail itself of as justification for improper implementation of the Convention.”

Kate Harrison appeared for Greenpeace.