Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Environmental Justice has a price..and the other side will use financial thuggery to bully you to silence:

The timing of protest is important in a financial context. Protest hardest and most often ,early,when it is still “free”.If you leave it till the formal planning stages it may already be too late,as it will be “expensive”.If you put an incinerator into a dense population, one of the reasons it is silly is that a large public opinion can be grown to come on your opposition side.Beware industry tactics that encourage late attention…well into the legal process.Here’s why:

From the Guardian 27/05/09

“In a recent campaign against the London borough of Hillingdon for failing to stop pollution from a coffee factory, locals were threatened with costs of £28,000 for simply applying to the court for permission to make a challenge.
"Whilst it is unlikely that our client would have been ordered to pay all, it did have a chilling effect and added to fund-raising pressures, which led them to withdraw," Gita Parihar, the solicitor at FoE who helped them with their legal aid application, says.
Paul Stookes, a lawyer who represents the Peacehaven residents, cites the recent case of Frank Morgan and Cathy Baker, neighbours who live close to a compost site in Publow, near Bristol. They complain of smells emanating from the site which are so bad Morgan claims to be stuck in his home "like a prisoner". They are also concerned about the dangers of bio-aerosols being released into the air.
Morgan and Baker were landed with a £25,000 legal bill after being granted an injunction to stop the site, which was later overturned. They were not backed by legal aid, but the claim was funded thorough legal expenses insurance contained in a household insurance policy.
The high court judge Mr Justice Sullivan highlighted the case in a report last year, Ensuring access to environmental justice in England and Wales, which found that only the "very rich or very poor" could afford to fight environmental schemes. In March, the court of appeal overturned the costs order and the case is now going to a full trial.
Stookes argues that these are the cases the government has committed itself to protecting by signing the Aarhus convention more than a decade ago. Under this the government promised to make sure ordinary members of the public who wish to pursue environmental challenges should have access to legal redress that were "fair, equitable and not prohibitively expensive".
FoE's Michaels argues there are "very particular problems with legal aid" and the bringing of environmental cases, not least that public funding is only available to individuals and not community groups or environmental non-governmental organisations who might be better placed to fund challenges.
"In some cases the group can put forward one of their members who might happen to be financially eligible, but that comes with a whole range of usual problems. Is there somebody in the group eligible for legal aid? The threshold for legal aid is pretty tight," says Michaels.
Even then the Legal Services Commission often asks for a contribution to cover the other side's legal costs. In the case of Peacehaven the legal action was taken in one person's name, and the contribution asked for and raised by the people of Peacehaven for the judicial review was £5,000. Although a sizeable sum, FoE says it is a low figure. The community dug deep to cover the amount, only to be forced to call it day when the stakes were raised even higher.”
The incinerator plans at Capel were defeated in the High Court after a long legal process.If people don’t know where that is…the plumes would threaten Dorking,Reigate and some of the most valuable properties and farms in the country.I don’t think that money was the sort of problem it would be in Thornton Heath ,for example.

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