A ruling from the highest court in the UK today (24 April 2013) means that campaigning pensioner Penny Uprichard faces a legal bill of over £173,000, in her legal challenge against the expansion of St Andrews.
Ms Uprichard took a judicial review against Fife Council and the Scottish Government in 2010, protesting the scale of development to the west of St Andrews. Ms Uprichard’s challenge was overturned by the Court of Session twice, leaving her with a legal bill of £173,000. A further appeal to the UK Supreme Court was overturned today.
Mary Church, Environmental Justice Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
"No-one should have to face such excessive costs for going to court to stand up for the environment. Scotland is bound under international law to ensure that people can hold governments and public authorities to account in court over decisions that impact on the environment, and that legal action is affordable. By no stretch of the imagination is £173,000 affordable."
The European Commission is taking the UK to court over its failure to provide access to justice in environmental cases, particularly in relation to the excessively high cost of legal action.
For media enquiries, please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
t: 0131 243 2719
1. A press summary of the case is at http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2012_0034_PressSu... and the full ruling can be found at http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2012_0034_Judgment.pdf
2. In April 2011 the EC referred the UK to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for non-compliance with the access to justice provisions of the Public Participation Directive, over the excessive cost of challenging decisions. The case is expected to be heard later this year.
3. Leading Scottish judges have recently upheld the importance of public interest litigation in defending the environment. In Walton (Appellant) v The Scottish Ministers (Respondent) (Scotland),  UKSC 44, Lord Reed emphasized the role of legal challenges to important decisions and acts by public authorities, as a vital means of up upholding the rule of law [at paras 89-96], and Lord Hope commented on the osprey whose interest can only be protected if someone speaks up on its behalf [at paras 151-154]. Ruling:
4. Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups - covering every continent. www.foe-scotland.org.uk * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups - covering every continent.