Stephen Tromans KC And Ruth Keating Act For The Office For Environmental Protection In Supreme Court EIA Case

On 13 April 2023, the Supreme Court granted the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) permission to intervene in the appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision in R (Finch) v Surrey County Council CA (Civ Div) [2022] EWCA Civ 187. The case relates to environmental impact assessment of Scope 3 emissions, i.e. greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels extracted as the result of a project for which consent is sought.  This is the first time the OEP has intervened in a case at Supreme Court level, reflecting the importance of the case as one of the most significant environmental appeals to come before the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court will consider whether Surrey County Council (SCC) acted lawfully by not requiring the development's EIA to assess the impact of GHG emissions resulting from the future combustion of oil produced by the new oil wells. The OEP's intervention is prompted by this failure or alleged failure of SCC to comply with environmental law.  OEP General Counsel, Peter Ashford, said: 
"EIA is so important for integrating the environment into planning decision-making. We are interested in this case because of the opportunity to clarify the law here to ensure proper decision-making that enhances environmental protection. We hope that the Supreme Court will take this opportunity, and will develop principles for determining the proper approach to the assessment of indirect effects under the EIA legislation."

The case is listed for hearing by the Supreme Court on 21 June.