High Court ruling examines application of Aarhus Convention

High Court ruling examines application of Aarhus Convention

The High Court in Dublin has delivered a landmark ruling on the scope of access to environmental information.

Delivering a judgment in the case of Stephen Minch -v- Commissioner for Environmental Information & Anor, Ms Justice Marie Baker said the Commissioner for Environmental Information had adopted an approach that was “too narrow”.

Dublin firm FP Logue Solicitors, which acted for the applicant in the case, said it was the first time the Irish Courts have reviewed the correct test as to whether information falls within the scope of an EU Directive on public access to environmental information.

In her judgment, Ms Justice Baker wrote: “I consider in the circumstances that the Commissioner’s approach was too narrow, he failed to adopt the teleological approach that is required to the interpretation and implementation of the Regulations, and imposed an overly narrow test of remoteness in seeking to characterise both the N.B.P. and any report or information within the framework that might inform the Government on the implementation of that plan.”

With this judgment, the High Court has affirmed that laws which give effect to the Aarhus Convention must be interpreted in light of the purpose of the Convention.

In assessing access to environmental information, a broad approach must be taken to allow for public participation in decisions which affect or may affect the environment.

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