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Title: Public involvement in environmental matters and the funding constraints in securing access to justice
Author: Stookes, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0001 3487 6658
Awarding Body: University of Hertfordshire
Current Institution: University of Hertfordshire
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis brings together six works published between 2003 and 2007 which consider public involvement in environmental matters. The later works focus on access to justice, one of three elements of public involvement. The works support the thesis that aspects of public involvement and, in particular access to justice in environmental matters, remain elusive for many individuals and groups in society; something that is inconsistent with both domestic and international law. They include analysis of why the need for participation arises and how it should be secured. By publishing primary research and new commentary the publications identify the gaps in the provision of public involvement in environmental matters and offer options for change. They have also informed further research and debate. The publications are brought together in this submission in chronological order, which illustrates how the hypothesis develops. The works are critically appraised in an introductory chapter. Public involvement is first discussed in The Prestige oil disaster, another example of the West living beyond its means (Environmental Law & Management 15[2003]1 16 (Jan 2003). LawText Publishing, Banbury, UK) and sets the backdrop for the later works. It highlights some of the key environmental problems of our time including, for instance, that environmental protection remains subservient to the pursuit economic development. Getting to the real EIA (Journal of Environmental Law, (2003) Vol 15, No. 2, p. 141 Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK) considers the role of public involvement in major land use development decision making by analysing one of the key participatory areas of public involvement; environmental impact assessment (EIA). EIA places emphasis on access to information and public participation in helping to prevent rather than alleviate adverse socio-environmental impacts. It is argued in Getting to the real F£IA that for the major development projects requiring EIA, public participation is nominal in nature and that, often, IS entirely absent. While Getting to the real EIA considers information and participation, access to justice is the focus of the third work; Civil law aspects of environmental justice ((2003) Environmental Law Foundation, London, UK). The work is based upon primary research which was necessary once it became evident that there was little, if any, data on how effective the judicial system is in securing access to environmental justice. The search conclusions were critical of the present judicial system highlighting that, in practice, a legal remedy was often unavailable to individuals and communities in challenging environmental decisions and resolving environmental problems; the most significant barrier being prohibitive expense. This was to such an extent that the UK Government was not meeting its international obligations. The failure to provide effective access to the courts as highlighted in Civil law aspects prompted the publication of the later work; The cost of doing the rights thing (Environmental Law & Management 16[2004]2 p. 59 (Mar 2004). LawText Publishing, Banbury, UK) which reviews the problems of access to environmental justice and then proposes innovative ways of starting to resolve those inherent in the legal justice system, including liability for an opponent's costs' if any legal challenge is ultimately unsuccessful. As the arguments surrounding funding constraints on access to justice were crystallising, the need to produce a substantive text clarifying the environmental rights and responsibilities of all interested parties became clear. This prompted the publication of A Practical Approach to Environmental Law ((2005). OUP, Oxford, UK) which is, in the main, a practitioner's text. However, the text also seeks to explain and raise awareness of the environmental rights that are available in the UK and the notion that public involvement in environmental decision-making has a central role. For instance, Chapter .2 Environmental rights and principles which is incorporated into this submission, outlines the main aspects of information, participation and access to justice and explains their relevant judicial and governmental application. While A Practical Approach to Environmental Law is novel in its comprehensive approach, its primary purpose is to inform readers, in an objective way, of the present legal position. Its inclusion in this submission is to illustrate how the arguments raised in the earlier publications have been presented to a wide audience. The final published work, ‘Current concerns in environmental decision making’ (Journal of Environment and Planning Law [2007] p. 536 Sweet & Maxwell, London, UK), places the argument of limitations of access to justice alongside the parallel and associated problems of an unwilling public protector and a conservative judiciary. It revisits the need for public participation in environmental matters by highlighting the reluctance of public bodies and the courts to take the issue of environmental justice seriously. It also argues that recent efforts in access to justice are largely superficial and that fundamental change remains necessary. The final paper was presented at the University of Kent, Critical Lawyer's Conference on 24 February 2007. The submitted works follow a distinct .theme by exploring the application of public involvement in environmental matters highlighting what is the main criticism of the public participatory provision in the UK the provision of access to the courts without prohibitive expense. The works have also been directly related to practical experience and work in seeking to improve the position. In drawing the published works together in one volume it has been helpful to outline some of the underlying issues relating to public involvement including what is meant by public participation, any levels and limitations to the rights now said to be conferred. This analysis has been provided in an expanded introduction which also includes a' critical appraisal of the main published works. Paul Stookes 22nd April 2008
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Environmental law ; access to justice ; funding constraints ; funding for justice