Securing Access to Environmental Justice

The greatest challenge of the 21st century is combining economic progress with social and environmental justice. Disputes relating to inequalities in environmental protection and over developments that have negative impacts upon communities represent the real difficulty of achieving sustainable development in the current legal and policy context. The Scottish Government’s consultation on Developments in Environmental Justice in Scotland has gone someway to covering these issues with recommendations due by late 2016. However, campaigners are clear that more needs to be done to make Scotland compliant with environmental justice legislation and to secure access to justice for all of Scotland's people and their environments.


Event run in partnership with


Join us on Tuesday 4th of October 2016 for an up to date briefing on the latest policy developments surrounding environmental justice issues and to examine how your organisation can better meet the challenge of empowering communities and reducing inequalities in the context of environmental disputes. Understand the relationship between environmental justice issues and other major policy areas including energy, planning and the built environment. Examine the legal barriers to securing access to justice, and the potential role of a specialist environmental court in Scotland.


Key Learning Outcomes:

Examine policy and practice surrounding the following timely questions: 

  • How will the Scottish government secure environmental justice for citizens?
  • What role will legal professionals, courts, planning authorities and communities play in future environmental justice legislation?
  • What are the current roadblocks to environmental justice in Scotland?
  • Should a specialist environmental court be established in Scotland?
  • What can your organisation do to empower communities to access environmental justice?
  • The expensive litigation process: how can public bodies navigate the complex legal arena surrounding environmental justice​?



09:00      Registration and refreshments

09:45      Welcome and introduction from the co-Chairperson

Professor Elizabeth Bomberg, University of Edinburgh 

Session 1: Introduction to environmental justice

09:50      What is environmental justice?

  •     The importance of defining the concept
  •     Linking concept, policy and practice

             Professor Kevin Dunion, School of Law, University of Dundee

10:10      Community understandings of environmental justice

  •     How are environmental costs socially-distributed
  •     How do communities understand and respond to environmental justice issues

              Dr Eurig Scandrett, Lecturer in Sociology, Queen Margaret University

10:30      Environmental justice from a legal perspective

  •     What is problematic in the government's consultation on environmental justice?  
  •     Why the current approach is too narrow in scope

              Kenneth Ross, Convener of Environmental Law Committee, The Law Society of Scotland

10:50      Questions & Discussion

11:10      Refreshments and networking 

Session 2: Access to justice: is a new approach needed?

11:30      Access to justice: Scotland and the Aarhus Convention

  •     Looking at Scotland’s compliance with the EU Aarhus Convention
  •     Do we have sufficient means for securing access to justice?

             Mary Church, Convener of Legal Group, Scottish Environment LINK

11:50      Protective expenses orders: a case study 

  •     Why PEOs are central to environmental protection
  •     A case study of Stronelairg wind development

              Helen McDade, Head of Policy, John Muir Trust

12:10    Keynote: Specialist environmental courts

  • How could a specialist environmental court help to resolve environmental justice disputes?
  • What form would this court take?

              Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt QC, Faculty of Advocates

12:30        Questions and Discussion

12:50        Lunch and networking

13:50      Welcome back from co-Chairperson 

Sarah Boyack, former Labour MSP, spokesperson for environmental justice

Session 3: Environmental Justice in the public sector    

13:55      Panel Discussion - Introductions

In this panel session, we will cover some of the following issues:

  • Exploring the need to include the built environment in the context of a specialist court
  • Engaging communities in the planning system and the importance of consulting
  • Working with and advising the public sector 
  • Promoting local democracy, citizen engagement and understanding the challenges facing public bodies

Jean Charsley, Hillhead Community Council

Shane Spence, Ardersier and Petty Community Council

Lynda Towers, Director of Public Law, Morton Frasers LLP

Peter McColl, Head of Policy, NESTA

14:20     Questions and Open Floor Discussion   

14:50     Refreshments and Networking


Session 4: Broadening the scope of the issue

15:20      Environmental justice and governance issues

  •     What would a more holistic approach to environmental justice need to consider?
  •     Key recommendations for moving forward

              Lloyd Austin, Convener of Governance Group, Scottish Environment LINK

15:40      Energy as a justice issue

  •     Policy discourses of energy justice
  •     Looking at place, scale and system in energy injustice

              Dr Darren McCauley, Senior Lecturer, University of St Andrews

16:00      Community Energy and the Empowerment of Communities 

  •     Is community ownership of energy the key to reducing inequalities and promoting environmental justice?
  •     What are the realities of this kind of community empowerment?

              Dr Mhairi Aitken, Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh

16:20      Questions and Discussion

16:45      Final remarks from the Chair

16:50      Close of Conference

17:00      Post-conference drinks reception

  • Co-hosted by University of Edinburgh department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability & Holyrood Communications 


Venue and rates

This event will take place at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

Delegate rates:

  • Discounted rate: £149 + VAT (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: £199 + VAT (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: £299 + VAT (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please contact Holyrood Events Research and Development Team: 

Zoe Russell | 0131 285 1692

4 October 2016
Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation
High School Yards
United Kingdom



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