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Chamber and committees

Question reference: S6W-22387

  • Asked by: Monica Lennon, MSP for Central Scotland, Scottish Labour
  • Date lodged: 8 November 2023
  • Current status: Answered by Siobhian Brown on 20 November 2023


To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S6W-15639 from Elena Whitham on 6 March 2023, whether it will provide an update on (a) what action it will take and (b) the timescales for any such action, in response to the finding by the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee that Scotland was not in full compliance with access to justice requirements of the Aarhus Convention. 


The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (“ACCC”) has previously welcomed significant progress made by Scotland in addressing the concerns identified by the ACCC. Officials worked with Defra to submit an action plan to the ACCC on behalf of the UK in July 2022, in response to the ACCC’s decision VII/8s issued in October 2021. Work is ongoing in order to strengthen Scotland’s compliance and address the areas of concern raised by the ACCC. A progress report was submitted to the ACCC in October 2023, again following liaison with the UK Government and in particular Defra.

In July 2022 the Scottish Government introduced an exemption from court fees for Aarhus Convention cases in the Court of Session. The Scottish Civil Justice Council (“SCJC”) is undertaking a review of court rules relating to Protective Expenses Orders. As the SCJC is an independent body, the Scottish Government cannot commit to a timeframe for completion of the rule review. The SCJC have however noted it in their annual report and work programme as a priority for completion in 2023/24. Policy development is ongoing in relation to a new Human Rights Bill for Scotland, which is to include a right to a healthy environment.

The deadline for addressing areas of concern and submitting a report to the ACCC is October 2024.