The Constitutional Court sanctions the lack off effective participation in the decision-making process of nature conservation matters
On 28 April 2016, the Constitutional Court partially annulled (judgment n° 57/2016) the Flemish decree of 9 May 2014 changing the legislation on nature and forests.
The procedures were instigated by farmers and agricultural companies fearing landuse restrictions.
The decree targets a network of protected areas (Natura 2000) which go back to the Birds Directive (79/409/EEG – abrogated by 2009/147/EC) and the Habitats directive (92/43/EEC).
The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
In order to reach that goal, the Flemish Region adopted a conservation policy encompassing, amongst others, a Flemish Natura 2000-programme, management plans and species conservation programmes.
The plaintiffs argued that the decree did not foresee in effective participation of the public during the elaboration process of the aforementioned plans and programmes.
The Court partially annulled the decree due to this lack of participation, which is contrary to article 23 of the Constitution and the participation requirements foreseen by the Aarhus Convention.
Photo: ChrisA1995 - CC by 2.0