To recap, Pat is no friend of renewable energy. He complained about the government’s renewable energy policy to every authority in Ireland and was either ignored or told to go away. So he complained to every European authority with the same result. And so he complained to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe under the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision Making and Access of Justice in Environmental Matters.
In February 2011, the Committee admitted Pat’s complaint. This is significant. Ireland did not ratify the Aarhus Convention. The EU did, however. Because Brussels handed down its renewable energy policy, Dublin is bound by Aarhus.
This sets a precedent. Any Irish policy that is somehow proscribed, inspired, or constrained by EU policy, is now subject to Aarhus.
The Committee has now issued its draft ruling. It is long and complex. It is silent on the policy itself. On procedural issues, two points stand:
- Ireland made a mess of its public consultation on the National Renewable Energy Action Plan.
- The European Commission failed in its duty to supervise Ireland.
- Anything in the NREAP can now be challenged.
- Consultation on the NREAP was not pretty, but it was not particularly ugly by Irish standards either. Other government plans can now be challenged too.
- And the EU has been told to intrude more.