Our purpose is to increase the capacity and opportunity of individuals, community groups and organisations to challenge environmental injustice at neighbourhood, local authority and national levels.
We advance environmental justice in two ways:
- by working to address the unequal distribution of environmental problems, and promoting everyone’s right to a healthy environment – these are called substantive rights.
- by working for meaningful participation in decision-making and for fair, timely and affordable access to legal action as a last resort – these are called procedural rights.
Advocacy in policy & law reform
A human right to a healthy environment
We are advocating for a human right to a healthy environment to be included in a new Human Rights (Scotland) Act. Read our presentation on why Scotland needs this right.
The First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership recommended the incorporation of the right to a healthy environment into Scots law, partly in response to the threats posed by Brexit.
ERCS is participating in the formulation of this right by contributing to the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership. Read our briefing and case studies by RSPB Scotland on what some of the major environmental problems are in Scotland, and why having a human right to a healthy environment could help to tackle them.
Friends of the Earth Scotland has been campaigning for over 10 years to bring Scotland into compliance with the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.
ERCS aims to add new impetus to its efforts, following decisions by the Meeting of the Parties (MoP) to the Convention in 2014 and 2017 that Scotland does not fully comply. This autumn, we contributed to the final review of UK progress since 2017 by the Convention Compliance Committee, on the persistent issue of the excessive cost of challenging environmental decisions in Scotland. We also provided comments on the UK Government’s draft National Implementation Report for the same period. These submissions will be considered by the Seventh MoP in October 2021.
We expect the MoP, delayed by a year because of Covid-19, to decide for the third consecutive time that Scotland is not fully compliant with the Convention.
Specialist environmental court
We are building on long-standing moves to create a specialist environmental court or tribunal in Scotland, designed around the principles of the Aarhus Convention.
ERCS submitted a response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the future of the Scottish Land Court and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland. The consultation proposes the incorporation of the Lands Tribunal into an expanded Land Court. Our response outlines our push for the expanded court to take on additional environmental responsibilities.
ERCS collaborated with Planning Democracy to write a response to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee on temporary modifications to planning regulations. We were concerned that they dilute the principle of public participation in decision-making during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of Scottish Environment LINK we contribute to responses to government consultations. We also collaborate with other LINK members to inform their position on environmental legislation and the legal system.
- ERCS response to to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the future of the Scottish Land Court and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland – October 2020
- UK Withdrawal from the EU (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill – LINK’s written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee – August 2020
- National Planning Framework 4 – LINK response to Scottish Government’s call for ideas – April 2020