Article: Whither environmental human rights?

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This paper explores the relevance in English law of human rights to environmental claims arising in the contested fields of public interest, policy and resource. The author argues that the balancing of individual rights against assertions of community interest should not now be regarded as solely within the purview of politician, administrator, or supply company. Whilst the administration’s arguments will still generally prevail, the potential for rights infringements opens the possibility of countering public utility arguments. He also draws attention to the fact that where liability rules fail properly to address external costs, solution might require creation of a direct statutory remedy. He observes that greater progress could produce solutions analogous to a radical argument in tort law that liability should attach to ‘inadvertent losses’ of a statutory benefit unless the state could show that these were justified under the statutory framework. He, finally, considers whether human rights arguments also open up the opportunity for greater transparency throughout the system.

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