A number of plastics manufacturers asked for judicial review of two decisions taken by the Director of Environmental Affairs, a governmental environmental protection entity. The first decision was the closure of the applicants’ factories in 2016 and the imposition of fines, for producing banned plastics, which the applicants allege was undertaken without the right to be heard. The second was the adoption of the ban in the first place, which the applicants allege was done without due regard to relevant factors, such as the hardship the decision would cause, or similar regulations in surrounding countries. The matter was dismissed.
Key environmental legal questions
- Did the factory closures and fines afford the applicants the right to be heard? The applicants’ businesses were first inspected 2015, and warning letters were duly issued, demanding they cease producing outlawed plastics. The initial warning afforded applicants an opportunity to be heard.
- Was the regulation promulgated with due regard to relevant factors, such as hardship or similar regulations in surrounding countries? The Director of Environmental Affairs conducted extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders, including the applicants, and considered surrounding countries and their waste management systems. It only promulgated the regulations after taking into account the feedback and relevant factors, striking a balance between economic hardship and the government’s policy of promoting sustainable development within the carrying capacity of the environment.