As you will be aware, the Aarhus Convention is an important item of legislation that provides a mechanism for ordinary members of the public to obtain access to information on the environment, participate in decisions about the environment and have access to affordable justice on environmental matters.
This is particularly important to rural house owners and tenants who are being exposed at a rapidly increasing rate to the approval in close proximity of large industrial wind turbines and the electricity pylons associated with them, with seemingly little recourse to natural justice in the preservation of their homes.
The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DoECLG) plan on reviewing the implementation of Article 9 “Access to Justice” of the Aarhus Convention, commencing 27 September 2014. Members of the public are invited to make submissions on the implementation of Article 9 prior to the commencement of the review.
It is essential that everyone who is affected, or may be affected, by the erection of wind farms and pylons (i.e. all rural dwellers), should make a submission of their views on the current implementation and proposals for its improvement.
The DoECLG would prefer that the public use either the online form or the Word template they provide on their website. Whilst this is convenient for the DoECLG, it does mean that they control the narrative of the submissions by their selection of questions. It is easy, but may not provide the structure that you prefer.
The alternative is to prepare a free-form submission and lodge it either by:
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Post to: Ms Aoife Joyce, Environment Policy and Awareness Section,
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government,
Newtown Road, Wexford.
Preparing a submission can be time consuming and difficult. Neil van Dokkum, whose blog “The Law is My Oyster” is so informative, has kindly prepared a submission template in Word format with suggested submission points which can be easily edited to reflect your views. This can be downloaded from: http://www.westcorkwind.com/index.php/public-accountability/Aarhus
Above all, do be sure to prepare and lodge your submission well before the closing date of 26 September 2014. Let your voice be heard – that is democracy at work.
Nigel de Haas
Tel: 023 8856896