Country
Republic of Korea
Sources
InforMEA
Tagging
Environmental Impact Assessments, Standing, Damages
Abstract

In this case, the Defendants planned to develop the

Yongwha Facility-Concentrated District Development Project in  Songnisan National Park which included 102 buildings facilities and  348,087m2 of annual construction area. Under the National Parks Act (NPA) and Environmental Impact Assessment Act (EIAA), areas exceeding 100,000m2 are subjected to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The plaintiffs include residents from Sinwolcheon area (located approximately 2km from the facility-concentrated district) and argue that their interests are protected under the NPA and EIAA from direct and serious environmental injuries exceeding the 'limit of tolerance' compared to a situation prior to the development. The court concluded that due to the connected nature of the river systems and the designation of the facility-concentrated district as level one Environment Protection Zones for water supply, the development project EIA must include consideration of impacts on provinces situated in areas "expected to receive direct and serious environmental damages." Thus, the court concluded that the plaintiffs had standing as their environmental interests were "infringed or be likely to be infringed." The court further stated its  judicial review over discretionary agency action is limited to examining if there is "illegality of deviating or abusing the discretionary power due to the action being based on misunderstanding of facts, violation of the principle of proportion and equality, violation of the purpose of the action, or unjust motives." The court decided that in this case, as long as the Minister of Environment was consulted on the approval for the modification of the facilities’ basic plan, even if the National Park’s Management Authority(“NPMA”) took a disposition contradicting the opinion the Minister of Environment’s EIA, the act cannot be held to be illegal unless special circumstances such as the contents of EIS Statement are extremely deficient that the legislative intention of the EIA system’s existence cannot be achieved. As a result, the appeal was dismissed.

(Source: Supreme Court of Korea, https://eng.scourt.go.kr/eng/supreme/decisions/NewDecisionsList.work?mode=6, last accessed 05, 06, 2018)