EEC law and funding for objectors at public inquiries

Whether objectors at public inquiries should receive any public funding has been a thorny question high on the political agenda during major inquiries such as those at Windscale in 1977 and Sizewell in 1982-5. Despite initiatives taken in some other countries, the Government has to date resisted the idea of any sort of funding in the UK. In a recent application for judicial review, objectors at an inquiry attempted to force the issue by employing an ingenious interpretation of EEC environmental law.

The Queen v Legal Aid Area No 8 (Northern) ex parte Sendall1 arose out of a public inquiry concerning a proposed clinical waste incinerator. An objector applied for legal aid to be represented at the inquiry, but was refused - not surprisingly since the statutory provisions governing the award of legal aid do not extend to public inquiries. The applicant then challenged the decision of the legal aid authority on the grounds that

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