J&E has helped to improve EIA practice around the EU
Justice&Environment (J&E), a network of environmental law NGOs from around the EU, has worked on national cases related to environmental impact assessment (EIA) for more than a decade. For us as lawyers, EIA provides a good tool to hold environmental and other authorities accountable by requiring transparency and public participation for projects with more potent impacts before a permit is issued for their construction and operation.
In a new publication, we have showcased some of the more recent examples of how we as environmental lawyers have succeeded in highlighting problematic practices and thereby improved the quality of environmental assessments aimed at preventing harmful impacts to people and nature.
Legal support provided by J&E and its members has taken many forms - sometimes it has taken intervention of courts to enable good practice; sometimes advice given to other NGOs and citizens during the EIA procedures themselves has been enough.
Although the EU law and court practice would seem to be clear on the question of when is an EIA required, the cases from Austria, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia demonstrate that there are still cases where EIA is not initiated, even though it would have to be. Whereas, with some cases this may be genuine confusion created by non-standard situations (e.g. making changes to a previously assessed road project, life-time extension of nuclear power plants), in others it demonstrates the lack of willingness of authorities to fulfil their obligations. In those cases, legal tools are often the last and best option to ensure that provisions intended to protect human health and biodiversity are actually being followed.
We hope that these cases serve as a source of inspiration for you all! Check out our publication.