European Union
Environmental Impact Assessments, Human Rights, Remedies, Prevention, Admissibility, Audits, Precaution, Biodiversity, Cooperation, Evidence
The applicants, Alison Hardy and Rodney Maile, are British nationals who were born in 1946 and 1935 respectively and live in Milford Haven (Wales, UK). The application concerned the construction and operation of two liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) terminals on sites at Milford Haven harbour. The applicants complained under Articles 2 (right to life) and 8 (right to protection of private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights about the development of the two sites. They alleged in particular that the authorities had failed to assess properly the marine risks of the sites’ operation and to disseminate all relevant information about possible risks. The Court found that the applicants’ complaints were most appropriately considered under Article 8 alone. The Court considered Article 8 alone was relevant to the claim. It concluded that the potential risks posed by the LNG terminals were such as to establish a sufficiently close link with the applicants' private lives and homes for the purposes of Article 8 and agreed that Article 8 was engaged. The Court concluded that there had been no violation of Article 8 in respect of the adequacy of the assessment of risks related to the LNG. The Court found that there had been a coherent and comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework governing the activities in question and that extensive reports and studies had been carried out in respect of the proposed LNG terminals. Furthermore it was felt that the national authorities had struck an appropriate balance between the different competing interests and had therefore fulfilled the British Government's obligation to secure the applicants' right to respect for their private lives and homes. The Court dismissed the argument that sufficient information about the perceived risks had not been given, noting that a great deal of information had been voluntarily provided to the public by the relevant authorities and the developers of the projects. The UK Government had argued that the applicants had not exhausted all local remedies as they had not exhausted the possibilities of appeal via the Information Commissioner to the Information Tribunal to the Court of Appeal. Furthermore it was argued on behalf of the UK government that Article 8 did not provide a right to see all studies which had been used in the assessment process as it should be sufficient that the public was informed of the conclusions of its studies and assessments coupled with information provided in the Environmental statements that accompanied the planning and hazardous substances applications. The Court agreed, finding that the applicants had failed to demonstrate that any substantive documents had not been disclosed to them.