A United Nations Committee has found there is a ‘profound suspicion of non–compliance’ over the United Kingdom’s failure to undertake trans–boundary consultations for the construction of a new nuclear plant in Somerset, England.
The investigation has been undertaken by the Implementation Committee of the United Nations Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context [Espoo].
The Chair of the Implementation Committee, Vesna Kolar Planinsic, has written to the United Kingdom Government after a formal hearing last September in Geneva. The letter has been copied to the Irish NGO Friends of the Irish Environment, who lodged a formal complaint to the Committee in March 2013 along with Sylvia Kotting–uhl, a member of the Gwerman Bunderstagg.
The letter cites the Convention’s primary aims as to ‘prevent, reduce, and control significant adverse transboundary impact from proposed activities’. ‘Even a low likelihood of such an impact should trigger the obligation to notify affected parties’, the Committee has told the UK Government. They have been invited in accordance with the Treaty to ‘present information and opinions on the matter under consideration’ at their next meeting on 9 – 11 December, 2014.
‘The United Kingdom did not consult with any of the states which might be affected by a nuclear accident at the plant on the grounds that “the likely impacts determined through a thorough EIA do not extend beyond the county of Somerset and the Severn Estuary”. This Convention requires that the opportunity provided to the public of potentially affected Parties is ‘equivalent to that provided to the public of the Party of origin’, FIE Director Tony Lowes said.
In the event of a continuing dispute between the parties, the matter will go before the International Court of Justice.
The UK High Court is due to hear an appeal on 27 March by An Taisce, the Irish national trust, against the refusal of the UK Courts to allow a Judicial Review of its Government’s decision not to consult with neighbouring states.
Information is taken from Friends of the Irish Environment press release.