EU Victory

The EU has found against the UK as regards the prohibitive expense of environmental legal proceedings. This will have major implications in Ireland as well.

In the case of Edwards it now means that here will be massive implications for those seeking to use the legal system to protect the environment.

EU law and the Aarhus Convention state that member states must ensure that environmental legal proceedings should not be prohibitively expensive.

This means that individuals and civil society groups should be able to afford to challenge decisions by the authorities where the environment is at risks.

The UK Government was not doing that and so lost their case.


This will have major implications in Ireland too and for the Carnagarve Group.

The European Court has stated that domestic courts must not exclusively look at the financial means of individual claimants but must look at the amounts of the costs, whether the claimant has a reasonable chance of success, the importance for the individual and the environment, the complexity of the particular law and whether public funding is available or if the costs can be capped at an acceptable level.

The Government and the Council have much more money than the Carnagarve Group so it was an unequal battle. This ruling will lead to more of an equalisation.

Rich and Poor

Said solicitor Carol Day “For far too long, legal action to protect the environment has been confined to either the very rich or the very poor, with the vast majority of concerned citizens powerless to challenge the decisions of public bodies.

“The judgment confirms that the Government must ensure the public at large can exercise their democratic right to go to court”.

Barrister Ralph Smith saidToday’s judgment should mean people can, without huge financial risk, challenge planning decisions that go wrong.”

Cheaper Law

According to UK Environmental Groups ” Until now, individuals and groups who take their case to the Courts have not been able to rule out the possibility that they will be ordered to pay tens of thousands of pounds to the other side – usually the Government – if they lose”.

The EU ruling will mean that the costs of the case no longer pose a substantial obstacle to fighting an Environmental case – even against the Government.

This is a severe blow to the Irish Environmental Agency, An Bord Pleanala and Donegal Council.

Enda and the Carnagarve Group will be dancing in the streets of Greencastle and Moville.