Air pollution, Constitutional, Administrative, Public Participation

The Constitutional Council is asked to review the conformity of articles L.222-1 to L.222-3 of the Environmental Code with the Constitution. It decided that article L.222-2 does not comply with the Constitution.

The applicants claimed that these dispositions violated the principle of public participation (art.7 of the Charter of the Environment).  In addition, they claimed the legislator disregarded the extent of its competence, and the intelligibility of the law (art. 34 of the Constitution) because he did not provide enough criteria to delimitate part of territories favorable to the development of wind energy.

The Constitutional Council rejected the argument of violation of article 34 of the Constitution, and examined only the violation of the public participation principle. The climate, air quality and energy plan, as well as the annexed local wind energy plan, define the objectives and directions for environmental preservation. Consequently, both kinds of documents are public decisions having an impact on the environment. The code for the environment provides that the projects of local climate, air and energy plan are available to the public in electronic form, for a minimum period of 1 month, to allow its participation. The modalities of application are set by decree (art.L.222-2 Environmental Code).

The Constitutional Council decided that the legislator simply stated the principle of public participation without defining the conditions and limits under which this right should be exercised. The legislation contains no provisions ensuring the implementation of the principle of public participation. Consequently, the first sentence of art.L.222-2 of the Environmental Code is unconstitutional.