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Senedd Cymru hears from pro bono students on the public right to environmental information

11 December 2023

A small green world in someone's hands

Environmentally-conscious students at the School of Law and Politics experienced law in action this November when their work was discussed and considered at Welsh Parliament, Senedd Cymru.

Pro bono scheme, the Environment Project submitted a report and petition to the Senedd’s Petitions Committee which was discussed by Members of the Senedd on 13 November 2023.

For the past 2 years, students on the scheme have been considering the public’s legal right to information on the environment. Their work has focussed on holding public bodies to account, to make information more accessible, so that the public can find out more about how public bodies are protecting the environment (or not) and can be more involved in decision-making on the environment, but from a position of knowledge.

The group’s work is overseen by environmental lawyer Guy Linley-Adams. Guy, a Cardiff LPC alumnus, has acted for many different environmental and conservation groups over the years on wildlife and conservation law, common law and statutory actions against water companies and other polluters. He has a special interest in freedom of information issues.

The group’s report, that was submitted to the Senedd Committee early in 2023, looked at the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, the rights they underpin, from which European and international law and convention they derive, and how are they are administered in the UK. Most specifically, the group considered and discussed how the 2004 Regulations could be improved in Wales, allowing Wales to lead the rest of the UK by example.

Members of the Senedd, Jack Sargeant and Joel James both discussed the report’s recommendations with the latter suggesting that a number of Senedd committees who are looking into similar matters (such as climate change and justice) should be made aware of the report and its range of recommendations.

Speaking of the report and its recommendations, Guy Linley-Adams said, “This is extremely encouraging for the students. This shows that the students’ hard work really can influence how Wales deals with access to information on the environment. This year’s Environment Project cohort is taking this work forward. This is real world experience of how law is made and we are very grateful to the Senedd for this opportunity.”

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