In this case, the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva heard a communication by Mrs Condron (represented by Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law) alleging that the UK had committed various breaches of the Aarhus Convention in connection with her failed High Court challenge to a planning permission granted by Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council to Miller Argent (South Wales) Ltd in respect of a coal disposal point in Merthyr Tydfil.
This was only the third such hearing involving the UK and raised several issues of fundamental importance to future environmental litigation, including:
- the compatibility with the costs regime in England and Wales with the Convention;
- whether the Convention means that the Courts should have an enhanced jurisdiction to review the planning judgments of decision-makers;
- whether the acts of private individuals and companies are bound by the Convention in some circumstances;
- whether the Convention should be interpreted so as to be compatible with customary international law and/or the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Committee had previously made a preliminary determination that the complaint was admissible. However, having heard oral argument, the Committee took the exceptional step of reversing that preliminary decision and declared the communication inadmissible on the basis that it was “manifestly unreasonable”. The Committee’s written report is available here.
Charles Banner appeared as sole counsel for Miller Argent (South Wales) Ltd, who successfuly opposed the communication (instructed by DLA Piper UK LLP).