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Aarhus Compliance Committee rules that local authority is not a “member of the public” entitled to submit a Communication

The Aarhus Compliance Committee has decided in Communications ACCC/C/2014/100 & 101 that: 

“While under domestic law of the Parties, municipalities might exercise their right to self-government and other subjective rights, even before courts, in the context of the Convention and international law in general, a “public authority” under article 2, paragraph 2(a) of the Convention was an emanation of the Party concerned. Hence, an allegation brought to the Committee by the communicant would give rise to an internal dispute between authorities of a Party concerned which was not within the remit of the Committee. The Committee therefore found that the London Borough of Hillingdon was not a member of the public for the purposes of article 15 of the Convention and was thus unable to submit a communication to the Committee under paragraph 18 of the annex to decision I/7 of the Meeting of the Parties. It re-confirmed its earlier determination of preliminary admissibility with respect to the other two communicants.” 

The communications in issue were brought in respect of High Speed 2: click here

The issue of whether a local authority enjoys Aarhus protections was also recently considered by the Court of Appeal in R (HS2 Action Alliance Ltd & London Borough of Hillingdon) v. Secretary of State for Transport [2015] EWCA Civ 203. In that case the Court  concluded that under the Aarhus costs rules in the CPR local authorities were protected; it declined though to rule on what the position was under the Convention because this was to be considered by the Committee in these Communications. 

The communication of the remaining communicants is scheduled to be considered by the Committee in December 2015. 

James Maurici QC and Jacqueline Lean are acting for the UK.

Charles Banner is acting for the Communicants.