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How challenges to environmental law will be managed after the transition period.

First published:
31 December 2020
Last updated:

Introduction

If you have concerns about the functioning of environmental laws in Wales please notify these to IEPAW@gov.wales.

This is an interim process in Wales while a permanent body to oversee compliance with environmental law is being developed. Its focus is on the functioning of environmental law, not on breaches of that law.

Bringing a challenge in relation to compliance with environmental law

If you wish to bring a challenge in relation to compliance with environmental law, then you should do so in the normal way – by pursuing existing means of redress (for example judicial review), as appropriate and in accordance with the relevant timescales. You should seek independent legal advice for confirmation as to what might be an appropriate means of redress.

What do we mean by environmental law in Wales?

Environmental law means any legislative provision which applies in Wales and is mainly concerned with an environmental matter

Environmental matters include:

  • protecting our natural resources
  • protecting people from the effects of damage to  our natural resources
  • actions which maintain, restore or enhance our natural resources
  • monitoring, assessing, considering, advising or reporting on anything relating to the above points

Natural resources are not limited to but include:

  • animals, plants and other organisms
  • air, water and soil
  • minerals
  • geological features and processes
  • physiographical features
  • climatic features and processes

It does not include matters about:

  • disclosure of or access to information
  • the armed forces or national security

This does not include concerns about:

  • Environmental incidents, find out more about reporting an environmental incident from Natural Resources Wales.
  • Services provided by local authorities, such as refuse collection, contact details for all local authorities can be found on the  Welsh Local Government Association website.
  • Unfair treatment or bad service. Complaints about unfair treatment or bad service by a public body should be directed to their complaints process. If you are not satisfied with their response, you can contact the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW).
  • Individual town and country planning decisions. Challenge of a planning decision should be directed either by judicial review through the Courts, or, if on the grounds of maladministration through the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW).

If you wish to complain about a suspected breach of environmental law by a public authority in England or Northern Ireland visit the IEGS Website. Please note you must have been through the public authority’s complaint process first.

If you have an issue about environmental law in Scotland please contact Environmental Standards Scotland, whose contact details can be found on environmentalstandards.scot.

What do we mean by ‘functioning’?

Concerns about the functioning of environmental law fall into three broad categories.

  1. No longer delivers intended objectives and outcomes. Either because it is outdated or requires updating or it no longer functions in a way which protects the environment or enables us to deliver our ambitious environmental outcomes.
  2. Guidance or information about the law is not accessible. The quality and availability of information or guidance impedes deliverability or operability by intended users.
  3. Practical delivery of the law is impeded. Where there are improvements which could be incorporated as a result of advances in science or technology or where barriers exist which frustrate or prevent practical delivery of law.

Supporting evidence

When you notify the interim assessor about a concern you will need to provide the following information:

  • which area of environmental law (and, if relevant, which organisation) the concern relates to. You should provide as much detail as possible including the specific sections of Acts, Regulations or other legal provisions that you consider require consideration;
  • detailed information about why you consider the law is not functioning properly;

You can withdraw your concern at any time by notifying us by email.

What happens next?

Once your email has been submitted you will receive an acknowledgment and we will log your concern.

Your concern will be sent to the Interim Assessor. They will decide if your concern is relevant for this process. That means, that is about the functioning of environmental law in Wales. If it is not, we will let you know and, if we can, tell you who you should contact.

If your concern is about the functioning of environmental law in Wales, the Interim Assessor will review it. The Assessor will prepare a report on the issue for the Welsh Ministers.  Once the Welsh Ministers have considered the report they will lay the report and their response in the Senedd.

On completion of the review, we will contact you to advise you of the outcome.

At the end of each calendar year, the Interim Assessor will prepare an annual report on all the concerns that have been submitted.