Law Society: Planning reform resourcing and environmental protections crucial to public interest

Law Society: Planning reform resourcing and environmental protections crucial to public interest

Zoe Richardson

A properly resourced planning system is crucial to delivering climate justice, the Law Society of Ireland’s first-ever climate justice conference will hear this afternoon.

The Policies and Action for a Climate Responsive Justice Sector conference, taking place in Blackhall Place from 2pm–6pm today, has been organised by the Law Society’s recently-established environmental and planning law committee.

The latest in a series of policy and law reform conference from the Law Society on priority access-to-justice issues, the conference is expected to draw 150 participants and will hear from leading domestic and international legal experts in climate and environmental justice.

The conference will discuss a range of issues including the draft Planning and Development Bill 2023, biodiversity and the climate crisis, ethics and climate conscious lawyering, and climate litigation.

Speakers will include:

  • Dr Matej Accetteo, president of the Constitutional Court of Slovenia and law lecturer, an expert in fundamental rights (constitutional) adjudication and citizenship who will discuss the impact of climate change on future generations;
  • Gerry Liston, senior lawyer with Global Legal Action Network who worked on Youth4ClimateJustice, an unprecedented climate action lawsuit taken by six Portuguese young people against 33 states which was heard by the European Court of Human Rights in September 2023;
  • Rachel Minch SC, partner at Philip Lee LLP and chair of the Law Society environmental and planning law committee, who will discuss the draft Planning and Development Bill; and
  • Dr Brian MacSharry, head of group of biodiversity at the European Environment Agency, Copenhagen.

Mark Garrett, director-general of the Law Society, said: “The legal profession has a fundamental role to play in mitigating the climate crisis and strengthening climate justice, through its work upholding the rule of law and providing access to justice.

“The Law Society also has an important role to play, working with government and policymakers to strengthen environmental protection and advance reforms to planning legislation.

“The establishment of our environmental and planning law committee this year, and this conference, are illustrative of the importance we place on making a meaningful contribution to what is the most critical issue of our time.”

Zoe Richardson, partner in public and regulatory law at Fieldfisher and member of the Law Society’s environmental and planning law committee, said: “It is critical that legislation is put in place that ensures protections for our environment and effective public participation in the planning process, while at the same time facilitating necessary development.

“In order for all of these to happen efficiently and effectively, our planning system must also be appropriately resourced, in the public interest. This is the task faced by government currently, as we approach a period of significant change in planning legislation, and an era of increased extreme weather conditions caused by climate change.

“We must work together as a profession, and society, to mitigate climate change, for future generations.”

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