Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 29th Nov 2019
Award-winning group calls for scrapping of proposed planning restrictions
Justice must be ‘free, full, and speedy’
An award-winning environmental group has called for citizens to oppose the recently published Planning Bill 2019 which imposes further restrictions on the ability of citizens’ groups to bring legal actions before the Irish Courts.
n accepting an Award from the Cork Environmental Forum, presented by the Mayor of the County, Cllr. Christopher O’Sullivan at the Firkin Crane Gallery in Cork this week, Friends of the Irish Environment Director Tony Lowes drew attention to the Heads of the recently circulated ‘Planning Bill 2019’. He said the proposed changes in the right of access to the Courts were ‘draconian’ and ‘entirely counter to the Aarhus Convention on Access to Justice’.
Mr. Lowes said the proposed restrictions include a requirement for community groups to be established for three years rather than the current one year and a requirement for them to have a minimum of 100 members. Changes to the ‘cost’ rules will make it more difficult for ‘pro bono’ representation. The requirement for being granted leave to bring a Judicial review will replace ‘sufficient’ interest with a ‘substantial’ interest in a way which must be ‘peculiar or personal’.
Accepting the Community and Voluntary Sector Award on behalf of his organisation, he quoted a recent UK Supreme Court decision that confirmed the right of access to justice. ‘‘Justice must be free, because nothing is more iniquitous than saleable justice; full, because justice ought not to limp; and speedy, because delay is in effect a denial. Then it is both Justice and Right.’
Friends of the Irish Environment recently had two of the Government’s Statutory Instruments struck down. Signed by Ministers Bruton and Murphy in January 2019, the legislation attempted to exempt the industrial extraction of peat from planning controls. Two of their cases have been referred to the European Court of Justice, one challenging the Shannon LNG approval process and the other seeking to have all court documents released when the judicial process is completed.
Photographs and other award winners: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further Information: Tony Lowes: 353 (0) 87 2176316
David Healy [Irish language]: 353 (0)87 6178852
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