Joint letter backs RSPB right to go to court

Environmental NGO's highlight that being able to challenge decisions through the courts is fundamental to democracy

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Following a recent advertising campaign by a coalition of businesses asking the RSPB to drop a court case against proposed offshore wind developments, the Trust has came together with several other environmental NGO's to highlight that being able to challenge decisions through the courts, when appropriate and in the public interest, is a fundamental democratic right. The letter sent to several newspapers who ran the adverts (and to date published in the Press and Journal) is below.  

Dear Editor,

The recent advert by the NnG Coalition, asking the RSPB to drop its case against the NnG Offshore Windfarms, in the interest of Scotland’s environment and economy fails to recognise a fundamental democratic principle. It is in the public’s interest, including those charities and bodies representing the public and environmental concerns, to be able to challenge the views and proposals of global businesses and the decisions being made by government.  This is even more important when such large developments are being consented in the absence of a full public local inquiry.

This case is not just about the impact the development could have on nature – the regional puffin population could be up to 25 per cent smaller as a direct result of the developments – it’s also about the rights of those with an alternative environmental view to challenge the decision making processes, if there are grounds to believe they have been inadequate.

The need for environmental protections from EU Directives, brought into domestic regulation, is currently a hot topic.  It involves species which are identified as needing protection, the right of citizens to be involved in environmental decisions and consideration of what weight the specialist advice of organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage should carry.

Moreover, the economic arguments are not all one way.  Scotland has recently been voted “the world’s most beautiful country”.  Landscape, seascapes and our wonderful birdlife are regularly identified as key to our tourism industry.  It is possible that the government simply got this one wrong and it is in all our interests that charities, when appropriate, are able to respectfully challenge such decisions in the courts. We hope the Supreme Court will examine the case carefully.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Bachell, John Muir Trust

Stuart Brooks, National Trust for Scotland

Jonny Hughes, Scottish Wildlife Trust

John Mayhew, Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland