This group of amendments will move the environmental review process from the upper tribunal to the High Court. Having reflected further on how that process will fit within the wider landscape of environmental mitigation, we have identified a risk that hearing environmental reviews in the upper tribunal could introduce unnecessary complexity and, potentially, inconsistency. This change is therefore intended to create greater coherence, clarity and consistency and is in the interests of good administration. First, the change will ensure that all the OEP’s legal proceedings are heard in a single forum, the High Court, regardless of whether they are brought as an environmental review following normal enforcement procedure or as an urgent judicial review.
Secondly, the change will ensure that all alleged breaches of environmental law are heard in the same forum, regardless of who has brought claims. For example, wider environmental judicial reviews brought by non-governmental organisations are heard in the High Court and environmental reviews brought by the OEP will now come to the same forum. That should help to promote a consistent approach towards the interpretation and application of environmental law. It is important to note that this change of legal forum does not in any way affect the legal test or principles that will be applied in an environmental review, and nor does it affect the OEP’s access to legal remedies as such.