Litigation for Nature
Court of Session, Edinburgh, Scotland
Holding governments and companies to account in the duties they owe to nature by harnessing the power of litigation and legal challenge
Although lacking in some areas, governments, public bodies and companies have many obligations to protect nature and biodiversity.
The issue comes when these organisations fail to comply with such obligations and nature suffers as a result.
In our Litigation for Nature project, we work with other NGOs and local activists across global jurisdictions to challenge decisions and policies which fall short of existing legal obligations. We also work to push the boundaries and extent of such legal protection through the courts and legal precedent.
Successful judicial review of NatureScot’s beaver culling licences
We collaborated with Scottish rewilding charity Trees for Life in bringing their ground breaking case which successfully challenged beaver culling licences issued by NatureScot. In her judgment on the case, Lady Carmichael found that beaver culling licences had been issued unlawfully by NatureScot. Shortly after judgment was received, the Scottish government announced a U-turn in its policy and is now favouring translocation of beavers instead of culling. In our view, this really demonstrates the power of litigation to change policy.
Holding Scottish agencies to account for unauthorised parking development in the Cairngorms National Park
We are working with local activists to challenge the creation of roadside parking around Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms National Park which has commenced unlawfully without any planning permission or consents being obtained, despite being in the middle of multiple protected areas. The work has caused significant damage to veteran Caledonian pine trees and is threatening to pollute the freshwater environment of Loch Morlich which is part of the River Spey Special Area of Conservation.
We are challenging these actions both to protect the immediate environment and to ensure that the Scottish agencies involved understand more generally that adherence to environmental protection obligations is not optional.
Litigation for Nature in the pipeline
Other exciting projects we’re looking at include using litigation to protect a SSSI river under threat by proposed damming; the possibility to use litigation to halt the degradation of our national parks; and protecting vital natural habitats in Greece from harmful tourist developments.
If you would like more information about our Litigation for Nature project or if you think we could help to enforce obligations to protect nature in your local area, get in touch with Elsie Blackshaw-Crosby, our Managing Lawyer.