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Environmental Citizenship

Environmental citizenship is the idea that we all should take responsibility for how we interact with the environment. There are many ways of doing this. This page lists out a few.

A Green Lifestyle
Different parts of our website show how important it is to adopt a lifestyle that helps the environment. See examples in Act Now under Climate Change which discusses how you can reduce your carbon footprint and Keep the Air Clean under Air Pollution. Another way that you can engage in good environmental citizenship is to keep waste down to a minimum in your home. The key to this is to reduce, reuse and recycle. The Act on Waste page gives links to websites with more advice and information. Think carefully too before you use that man in the white van for waste collection. Find out if he is licensed as you may be encouraging fly tipping. Find out more on this and other waste responsibilities in Waste Duty of Care and Fly Tipping under Cleaner Communities. Our Wildlife and Nature section also provides information on how we can protect and take care of the animals and plants that live within our local environment. Visit our Water Pollution section for more information on what role you can play in reducing water pollution in the UK.
Participate in Environmental Decision Making
One good way of exercising environmental citizenship is to get involved in the environmental decision making process. The Aarhus Convention 1998, an international convention which the UK is a party to, provides the right to public participation in the decision making process. There are different ways in which you can play a role in environmental decision making. You can get involved in the local consultation process on the sustainable community strategy for your area, when next it comes up for review. You can also participate in your local planning system. Our section on Planning and Building works provides information on how you can let your voice be heard during the Planning and Environmental Impact Assessment process. Provided that you have standing (sufficient interest) you may also be able to challenge the decision of a public body on an environmental matter in court. Please consult a solicitor to confirm that you have sufficient interest before you proceed.
Hold Businesses to Account
Industries and businesses have a tremendous impact on the environment. Help them to act responsibly as you make your consumer choices on goods or services. Think green before you buy. If you intend to buy a new electronic or electrical appliance, find out from your retailer about their take back schemes for an old equivalent appliance. Refuse to buy products with excessive packaging. Find out more on the responsibilities that businesses have on packaging and packaging in our Waste section.

Environmental citizenship is not just about our responsibilties, it is also about our rights. You have the right to:

Access to Environmental Information
It will be difficult to participate in environmental decision making, without having adequate access to environmental information. The Aarhus Convention 1998 recognises this right as the first pillar in promoting public participation. Environmental information includes, information held by public bodies on air, water, soil, land, plants and animals, energy, noise, identity of polluters from the pollution registers, waste and emissions. It also includes information about decisions, policies or activities that affect the environment. Our Access to Environmental Information pages provide information on your right to access environmental information held by public bodies.
Access to Justice in Environmental Matters
This is a key pillar of the Aarhus Convention 1998. It involves the right of all to access legal help and to get adequate judicial redress on environmental issues. The cost of taking a case to court has been identified as a major barrier to access to environmental justice. If you are not rich enough or do not qualify for legal aid, you may find out that the cost of going to court is prohibitively high. You also have to consider the possibility of paying for the other party's legal costs, if you lose your claims. This has prevented many from getting the legal help they require. The issue of standing (sufficient interest) can also act as an obstacle to getting relief from the courts on an environmental matter. This may not be much of a problem for organisations or campaign groups promoting environmental protection. The Aarhus Convention recognises that these organisations have sufficient standing to seek judicial review on environmental issues. Another key barrier to access to justice in environmental matters is limited availability of free online public access information resources on environmental law in the UK. This website aims to fill this gap.
A Clean and Healthy Environment
The Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005, other UK legislation, International agreements and European Directives recognise the need for people to live and work in a clean and healthy environment. The Clean Neighbouhood and Environment Act tackles environmental offences that affect the quality of the environment. They include dog fouling, fly tipping, litter, fly posting (illegal advertisements) and abandoned and iilegally parked cars. You can get further information on this in our Cleaner Communities section.

Legislation

International

UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) 1998


National (England and Wales)

The Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004

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