Environmental group sets up legal advice facility

Nathalie Thomas

Friends of the Earth is setting up a legal facility that will allow it to act on behalf of other NGOs and community groups in cases involving environmental issues.

The organisation hopes its Rights & Justice Centre will do for the environmental movement what Liberty has done for human rights. It will provide legal advice for groups and individuals who would not otherwise have access to legal support.

Phil Michaels, the in-house lawyer in charge of the centre, believes a specialist service focusing exclusively on the environment will help strengthen the green lobby.

"Having a strategic litigation facility has real potential to effect change, on a small scale and in a wider capacity," he said. "A well-targeted legal challenge - such as Friends of the Earth's challenge to the scrapping of the Operating and Financial Review - has significant effects on policy development."

Organisations will be able to get advice by email or telephone. A successful pilot of the project has already seen the organisation intervene in planning disputes and air quality issues.

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