INDEPENDENT NEWS

Green Budget: Environmental Legal Aid Funding

Published: Thu 24 May 2001 02:53 PM
Environmental Legal Aid Funding Increases And Continues
Green Party Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today said he was pleased that the Government had agreed to continue funding, and to expand, a scheme to provide legal aid to environmental groups and organisations.
The Green Party secured $700,000 in Government funding for the environmental legal aid scheme in last year’s budget and the scheme has been rolled over in this year’s budget with another $3 million in funding for the next two years.
“It’s great that the Government will continue to support this initiative,” said Mr Tanczos. “It is important that community and environmental organisations can get access to the courts, even if they don’t have a lot of money.”
Mr Tanczos said under this initiative groups will be able to apply to the Ministry for the Environment for a grant to help with the costs involved in bringing a case to court.
“In the past the environment has been the loser in battles between fat cat developers and ecological and community organisations.
“The Greens and the Government agree that, in genuine cases, ordinary people should be able to challenge dodgy developments and projects in the courts,” he said.
“This fund will will allow groups to mount a strong legal defence on behalf of the environment and, in the process, preserve valuable areas of natural splendour. Ideally legal challenges on environmental grounds should not cost a cent, but this will help balance the playing field.”
Mr Tanczos said the rollover of the environmental legal aid initiative showed the merit of the scheme and he was confident it would again be expanded in future years.

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