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Environmental Campaigners Win Court Expenses Order

Lord Stewart, on 20th January 2011 upheld in the Court of Session an application by environmental campaigners Road Sense to restrict any award of costs against them when they proceeded with a case against the Scottish Ministers.

They were pursuing an appeal against the Scottish Ministers regarding the proposed peripheral route around the west and north of Aberdeen. 

The campaigners had argued their case that under the terms of article 10(a) of the Environmental Impacts Assessment Directive.  The Directive followed on from the well-known European convention on access to information and public participation and access to justice (better known as the Aarhus convention).  The convention provides that to afford access to justice to claimants the national government should ensure that a person has access to a legal procedure that would not be prohibitively expensive in upholding their rights to have the environmental decision reviewed. 

The judge Lord Stewart took the view that an order should be made that no more than £40,000 would be payable in costs by Road Sense should their appeal be unsuccessful. 

This case is the first of its kind in Scotland and is of significance to the environmental campaigners. 

Lawford Kidd in conjunction with national environmental law firm Hugh James advised Leith Links Residents Association on a potential claim arising out of the odour produced by the Seafield Sewage Works.  Managing Partner David Short commended: “This case is welcome news for environmental campaigners.  The Scots law has been slow in providing adequate legal protection for environmental campaigners taking public bodies to task when their actions have been affecting their property or environmental welfare rights.  This judgement may allow campaigners to proceed in a knowledge that they can obtain protection from the Scottish Courts for the full cost of litigation expenses.”.

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