Convenor’s Reflections on the AIE Workshop held at UCC School of Law on 12 June 2015: Note of Workshop on Access to Information on the Environment – UCC – 12 June 2015
On Wednesday, 28 October, 2015, UCC School of Law hosted a workshop for invited participants on the theme Law, Technical Evidence and Environmental Adjudication. The aim of the workshop was to explore further a number of the key themes to emerge from the conference on environmental courts held at UCC School of Law on 19 June 2015. The main focus of the workshop was the interaction between law and technical / scientific evidence in environmental adjudication. This raises a range of important issues including: the extent of the courts’ scientific literacy; whether the appropriate legal machinery is in place to facilitate good-quality environmental decision-making where complex technical / scientific evidence is at issue; and mechanisms to support environmental adjudication where the available technical /scientific evidence is contested.
The workshop, involving a mix of invited experts, including academic lawyers, legal practitioners and regulators, aimed: to facilitate exchange of knowledge and experience on environmental adjudication; to develop new research networks; and to map out a programme of further research in this field. The participants were:
Áine Ryall, School of Law, UCC – Convenor; The Hon Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Supreme Court of Ireland; Ceri Warnock, Faculty of Law, University of Otago; Mary Gurrie, Office of Environmental Enforcement, Environmental Protection Agency; Dr Fred Logue, FP Logue Solicitors (Partner); Dr Andrew Jackson, UCD School of Law.
This workshop is part of a larger research project Strengthening Environmental Decision-making: Law, Technical Evidence and Institutional Design funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant 2014/15.
Details here: Workshop 28 October UCC School of Law
Áine Ryall Submission: Consultation on Background doc to draft NMP – July 2015
Details of the DECLG public consultation: http://www.environ.ie/en/Environment/Atmosphere/ClimateChange/PublicConsultation/
This paper is based on a presentation at a conference on Environmental Courts, Enforcement, Judicial Review and Appeals: Exploring the Options for Ireland held at the School of Law, University College Cork on 19 June 2015. The conference examined a number of the challenges involved in designing appropriate institutional mechanisms to provide effective oversight and to improve the quality of environmental decision-making. This paper is informed by the rich and wide-ranging discussion that took place at that conference. It sets out the potential advantages and disadvantages of a specialist environmental court in the context of contemporary challenges in delivering access to environmental justice in Ireland. Rather than being in any away prescriptive, the overall aim of this contribution is to spark an informed debate on this issue and on how environmental disputes are dealt with more generally. The paper draws on research undertaken for a project entitled Strengthening Environmental Decision-making: Law, Technical Evidence & Institutional Design funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant 2014/15.
Workshop on Access to Environmental Information, School of Law, University College Cork, Friday, 12 June 2015
UCC School of Law hosted a workshop on Access to Environmental Information on Friday, 12 June 2015. The workshop brought together a wide range of invited participants including: academic lawyers from Ireland, England and Scotland; the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information; the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), UK; the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner; the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; the Environmental Protection Agency; and leading information rights advocates.
The aim of the workshop was: to discuss issues arising in implementation of the right of access to environmental information; to facilitate exchange of knowledge and experience on information law and policy; and to develop networks with a view to identifying further opportunities for collaboration and future research projects.
The workshop is part of a larger research project Delivering Access to Environmental Information: Old Challenges, New Approaches funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant 2014/15 led by Áine Ryall, School of Law, UCC.
The overall aim of the research project is to improve implementation of international and EU law governing the right of access to environmental information in Ireland.
Áine Ryall, School of Law, UCC, Convenor
Elizabeth Dolan, Senior Investigator, Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information
Dr Andrew Jackson, Solicitor and Natural Environment Officer, An Taisce (National Trust for Ireland)
Margaret Keyse, Head of Enforcement, Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner
Dr Fred Logue, FP Logue Solicitors (Partner)
Prof Maeve McDonagh, School of Law, UCC
Paul Mutch, Freedom of Information Officer (Policy & Information), Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner
Prof Colin Reid, School of Law and FOI Centre, University of Dundee
Marguerite Ryan, National Focal Point – Aarhus, Department of Environment, Community & Local Government
Karen Vaughey, FOI/AIE Officer, Environmental Protection Agency
Sean Whittaker, PhD Candidate, School of Law, UCC & IRC Government of Ireland Scholar
Steve Wood, Head of Policy Delivery, Information Commissioner’s Office, UK
Susan Wolf, Northumbria University School of Law
Background paper by Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Supreme Court & Adjunct Professor, School of Law, UCC “A Possible Environmental Court: The Constitutional and Legal Parameters” (June 2015)
The following two papers by Judge Merideth Wright, former Presiding Judge, Vermont Environmental Court are useful background reading for our conference on 19 June:
Wright, “The Vermont Environmental Court” (2010) 3 Journal of Court Innovation 201
Text available here: https://www.nycourts.gov/court-innovation/Winter-2010/jciWright.pdf
Wright, “Procedural Environmental Rights Giving Access to Justice: lessons from Vermont and other courts handling environmental cases around the world” paper prepared for the 3rd UNITAR-Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy, 5-7 September 2014, New Haven
Further background reading
Pring and Pring, Greening Justice: Creating & Improving Environmental Courts and Tribunals (The Access Initiative, 2009) http://www.accessinitiative.org/resource/greening-justice
Journal of Environmental Law (Open Access) Virtual Collection on Specialist Environmental and Planning Courts: http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/envlaw/special-virtual-issue.html
Friday, 19 June 2015, 2-6pm
University College Cork, School of Law Conference
Environmental Courts, Enforcement, Judicial Review & Appeals:
Exploring the Options for Ireland
This conference will examine the potential for a specialist environmental court in Ireland. The overall goal is to consider appropriate institutional mechanisms to provide effective oversight and to improve the quality of environmental decision-making. Many jurisdictions have recognised the value of expert institutions to resolve complex and often technical disputes in the environmental field. The conference aims to explore the various issues and challenges arising in the Irish context and to provide a forum for exchange of knowledge and informed discussion among interested parties.
The event is open to all and is free of charge, although advance registration will be required. A full programme, booking arrangements and further details will be circulated shortly and will be posted on the School of Law website: http://www.ucc.ie/en/lawsite/
This event is part of a larger research project Strengthening Environmental Decision-making: Law, Technical Evidence & Institutional Design, funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant.
The Hon Ms Justice Marie Baker, High Court
The Hon Judge Merideth Wright, former Presiding Judge, Vermont Environmental Court
Judge Anthony M Collins, General Court of the European Union & Adjunct Professor, School of Law, UCC
Dr Mary Kelly, Chairperson, An Bord Pleanála
Tom Flynn BL
Áine Ryall, School of Law, UCC
Conference Convenor: Áine Ryall Twitter: @EnvJusticeUCC
Submission to DECLG Public Consultation on Access to Justice & Implementation of Article 9 of the Aarhus Convention
The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) launched a public consultation on Access to Justice and Implementation of Article 9 of the Aarhus Convention on 21 July 2014.
My submission to this consultation is here: DECLG Aarhus Art 9 Public Consultation – Aine Ryall Response
Full details of the consultation, which closed on 26 September 2014 here:
Slides from Áine Ryall’s presentation at seminar on the theme “Access to Information” organised by Maastricht University, MECC, Maastricht, 30 June 2014:
Seminar programme here: http://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/web/Faculties/FL/conferences_research_law.htm
With thanks to the College of Business & Law, University College Cork Research Dissemination Support Scheme 2014 for funding my participation in this event & to colleagues at Maastricht University for their warm welcome & generous hospitality.
Presentation by Áine Ryall at Law & the Environment 2014, Faculty of Law, UCC on 3 April 2014
Slides available here: Aine Ryall – UCC Law & Environment 2014 – final – 3.4.14