The Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) received charitable status as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SC050257) on 3 July 2020.
Why we need an Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland
ERCS aims to provide accessible public education and advice services in environmental and related planning law. We also advocate for policy and law reform and will pursue public interest litigation to ensure environmental rights are upheld.
There are two reasons why ERCS is needed in Scotland.
1. To address major environmental problems – substantive rights
There are a number of major environmental problems in Scotland: with many people, particularly living in areas of highest deprivation, suffering from air pollution, poor environmental quality, poor access to good bio-diverse greenspace and close proximity to vacant and derelict land. Equally, global environmental problems like climate change, biodiversity loss and plastic pollution are increasingly urgent.
ERCS supports citizens and environmental organisations to use the law to hold government and public bodies to account in order to protect the environment and uphold the right to a healthy environment.
2. To address problems with the legal system – procedural rights
Scotland’s distinct legal system and Scottish devolution have resulted in a growing and complex body of Scottish environmental law.
Environmental governance issues include limited public participation in the planning system, poor enforcement of planning and nature conservation law, and lack of access to justice in environmental matters. Most of the UK and Scotland’s environmental laws come from the EU, therefore Brexit risks both the deterioration of existing environmental laws and a loss of alignment with EU standards.
Covid-19 has demonstrated how human rights and environmental protection are inextricably linked. The unequal impacts of the pandemic have put important aspects of environmental rights in the spotlight: from global biodiversity loss to the importance of local access to good quality greenspace. Against the background of Brexit and the continuing uncertainty both it and the Covid-19 pandemic create, there is a real danger that environmental regulations will be further loosened.
In whatever shape the ‘new normal’ develops, the need for an environmental legal watchdog like ERCS is greater than ever.