Managing Facts and Feelings in Environmental Governance
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Managing Facts and Feelings in Environmental Governance

Edited by Lorenzo Squintani, Jan Darpö, Luc Lavrysen and Peter-Tobias Stoll

This timely book brings to the foreground the considerable tensions between the need to engage the public in the importance of environmental governance and the need of professional expertise to address the issues which arise. In doing so, it highlights that not only can public opinion deviate from scientific knowledge, but scientific knowledge itself can be lacunose or contradicting. Drawing together insights from some of the leading scholars, this engaging work will provide guidance to decision makers, including judges, on how to govern public participation procedures and professional expertise and the role that the precautionary principle can play in this regard.
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Chapter 3: Towards equal opportunities in public participation in environmental matters in the European Union

Lorenzo Squintani and Hendrik Schoukens

Abstract

Chapter 3 addresses the emerging problem that large groups of our society, usually the weaker ones such as the less well educated, are de facto marginalized during public participation procedures. For example, studies show that less well educated and financially insecure people cannot effectively take part in environmental public participation procedures. From a legal perspective, public participation procedures tend to focus on procedural equality, ie on ensuring that each member of the public has the same right to participate as any other member does. This chapter focuses on how law in the EU can be used to anchor public participation procedures to material equality, ie equity. Hence, they focus, first, on the role that positive action plays in EU law in general. Both the general principle of equal treatment and the role played by positive action in specific areas of EU law are discussed in this regard. Second, they focus on public participation in environmental matters, in particular focusing on the room for positive action under the Aarhus Convention, and the EU law implementing it. On the whole, this chapter develops a framework for further research on how to reach equal opportunities in public participation procedures concerning environmental matters.

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