Belgium bitten by Aarhus – again

19 February 2012 by

Solvay, CJEU, 16 February 2012 read judgment

This case is a sequel to C-128/09 Boxus, CJEU, 18 October 2011, for which see my post. Boxus was a reference from the Belgian Conseil d’Etat. Solvay was a reference from the Belgian Constitutional Court, with a wide set of questions asking, in effect, whether ratification by the Walloon Parliament of various airport and railway projects got round various challenges set by the Aarhus Convention, the EIA Directive, as amended, and the Habitats Directive.

The answer was, unsurprisingly the same as that given in Boxus – not really, need to do more than send it through parliament. But we learn a few extra things. First, the uncompromising nature of the parliamentary decree:

‘Article 1. Overriding reasons in the public interest have been established for the grant of town-planning consents, environmental consents and combined consents relating to the following acts and works:

1.      Acts and works for the improvement of the infrastructure and public buildings of the regional airports of Liège-Bierset and Brussels South Charleroi, as follows..

Job done, so our Wallonian parliamentarians seem to have thought. Pity about the small matter of the various directives which require rather more than a parliamentary say-so before consent is granted. We also learn of another development underpinned,  it is said, with overriding reasons in the public interest:  “the creation of infrastructure intended to accommodate the management centre of a private company”. We are not told why the Wallonian parliament consider that this private company, whoever it may be, is so special that its proposed offices need to take over a bit of a site designated as either a Special Protection Area for birds or a Special Area of Conservation for habitats more generally.  The CJEU approached this one warily:

76      Works intended for the location or expansion of an undertaking satisfy those conditions only in exceptional circumstances.

77      It cannot be ruled out that that is the case where a project, although of a private character, in fact by its very nature and by its economic and social context presents an overriding public interest and it has been shown that there are no alternative solutions.

78      In the light of those criteria, the mere construction of infrastructure designed to accommodate a management centre cannot constitute an imperative reason of overriding public interest within the meaning of Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive.

Short point – why do the posh offices of some company (say, a multinational whom the Walloons wanted to lure into their territories) have to be there, rather than in some place that does not threaten a habitat? Question unanswered – and unanswerable, one would have thought. There has to be a possible alternative to an office; it is hardly like some public infrastructure project that may to be in a particular place – think of a new railway to, say, Manchester, where there are only so many routes where the track can go.

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

Related posts:

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.


Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
%d bloggers like this: