Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Can Public Interest Litigation Protect the Natural Environment of Hong Kong? (Karen Kong)

Hong Kong Lawyer
November 2015, pp. 32-37
With the rapid increase in major development projects and cross-border infrastructure in Hong Kong, striking a proper balance between economic growth and environmental conservation has become an increasingly challenging task. There is a constant battle between different stakeholders on environmental protection issues.
     When an agreement cannot be reached through the legislative and executive channels, people have resorted to taking the issues to the court. Landmark environmental judicial review cases in recent years include: Harbour Reclamation (2004), Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (2011), Municipal Wastes Incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau (2014), Artificial Beach in Lung Mei (2014), and the upcoming Airport Third Runway (2015). Such litigation initiated by environmental activists is often referred to as Environmental Public Interest Litigation (“EPIL”).
     EPIL is controversial because many believe that environmental controversies should be dealt with through the legislative and the executive branches, not in the court room. EPIL critics argue that the court should not be a forum to debate policy questions.
     However, it is submitted that, despite its limitations and constraints, EPIL still has an important and legitimate role to play in pursuing sustainable development, in view of a political system that often fails to adequately channel the views of the public to the government... Click here to read the full article.

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