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Address by Comhsaol – The Climate Bar

Address by Comhsaol – The Climate Bar Association Chair, Clíona Kimber SC on the formal establishment of the new Planning & Environmental Court, December 2023.

Dia dhaoibh go léir ar maidin. The United nations environmental programme in 2016 commissioned a worldwide report on the adjudication of environmental disputes and it concluded that the establishment of specialized environmental and courts and tribunals is a key step in improving the adjudication and resolution of environmental disputes.

Agus dá bhrí sin ar son Comhsaol – The Climate Bar Association, ba bhreá liom chomhairdeagas a síneadh le Mr. Justice Richard Humphreys, Mr. Justice David Holland, Ms. Justice Emily Farrell agus Mr. Justice Barniville on behalf of Comhsaol – The Climate Bar Association. We very much welcome this initiative as Ireland taking its place in the world.

I do note in addition, that the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity in its recommendations at #2 stated:

"The assembly believes that the State has comprehensively failed to adequately fund, implement and enforce existing national legislation, national policies, EU bio-diversity related laws and directives related to biodiversity. This must change."

Well, today I can say tús maith, leath na hoibre. The minister is to be commended - and the State - in taking a step forward to implement those recommendations of the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity. But I do note also at recommendation 27, The Assembly stated:

“In addition to recent developments in judicial structures in environment and planning, the state must develop the environmental court at circuit and District Court levels in order to hold policyholders, businesses and citizens to account"

We are facing a triple planetary crisis climate change pollution and biodiversity loss. There will be more conflict in Ireland and the courts are central to resolving conflict. So therefore I hope that this court will be the start of a comprehensive approach to the State, through the enforcement of existing national legislation, not just in the High Court but in all the courts of the land.

We are, as the Attorney has noted, a society governed by the rule of law, and it is in the court and through the courts’ mechanisms that the conflicts we are going to face in the future must be resolved. And they must be resolved promptly and efficiently.

So therefore I would like once again to congratulate and welcome all parties I am delighted to see this initiative. Agus arís, go raibh mile maith agat.

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