Access information on Multilateral Environmental Agreements

Title
Ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court on the legality and transparency of the licenses to open and run landfills
Party
Portugal
Type of document
National - higher court
Date of text
December 29, 2015
Data source
InforMEA
Court name
Tribunal de Contas
Seat of court
Lisboa
Justice(s)
António Augusto Pinto dos Santos Carvalho et al.
Reference number
Application No. audit-dgtc-rel028-2015-2s
Abstract

The Supreme Administrative Court of Portugal (TC) ordered the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA) and the Commission for Coordination and Regional Development (CCDR) to both draw up "a manual of procedures for environmental licensing” and to adopt measures to promote public participation and understanding of the decision-making processes, particularly through the dissemination through different media of all relevant information for these processes.
The court noticed that most of the licenses on the official APA site were not even being signed, which constituted a functional lack of information on the identification of accountability and therefore lacking a pivotal feature for the grant of a license”.
Moreover, the Court adds, CCDR itself, had in a precedent case warned that environmental licenses of records issued on the APA website "suffer from significant deficiencies and are missing fundamental information on the operating licenses”.
Finally, the Court added that “the Portuguese Environmental Agency did not answer at all on the question of the publicity of the environmental permits nor did it disclosed the reasons for such secrecy or provided a solution to it " and therefore decides to state again the order to APA of the preparation of "supporting documents to the issuing of grant of environmental licenses and their renewal, containing the grounds of facts and acts of law and explaining, if so, to what extent the results of public participation were taken into account , shall be invalid the license".
Similarly, the TC also recommends disclosure of judgments of environmental licensing procedures to the authorities as well, indicating the need of transparency of information after the issuance of licenses or their renewal as well as the regular updating of the information contained in the Environmental Licenses Issued database.