About Us

KECN exists to help local environmental and community groups in Kent and elsewhere to achieve environmental justice. There is a significant knowledge gap across the country regarding planning processes. As a result, many environmentally unsustainable developments go ahead that might otherwise have been halted.  We also work towards the reform of the planning, legal, and governance systems in order to achieve more effective environmental protection nationally in line with the Aarhus Convention.

KECN is made up of a number of individuals who have many years’ experience in environmental campaigning, planning, and legal matters. Since our inception we have helped many local community groups in fighting against planning applications, including plans for superstores, large housing developments in the open countryside, and a new airport at Lydd.

KECN’s members include:

  • Dr Geoff Meaden (KECN Director) has been an expert witness at the Lydd Inquiry and at the groundbreaking climate change cases of Kingsnorth, Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Aberdeen and Manchester Airport.
  • Emily Shirley (KECN Director) is a keen environmentalist and a non-practising barrister with legal planning experience.
  • Dr Wendy Le-las (KECN associate) was involved with the famous Monkton Cokeworks case in the late 80s, which led to the setting up of the Environment Agency and the Environmental Law Foundation. She helped draft KECN’s Communication, lodged with the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee.
  • Michael Rundell (KECN associate) has long been involved campaigning locally on planning and environmental issues.

What is the Aarhus Convention?

The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters was adopted on 25th June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in the ‘Environment for Europe’ process. It was signed up to by the UK in 2005.

The Aarhus Convention has emerged as a foremost environmental agreement. The Convention:

  • Links environmental rights and human rights
  • Acknowledges that we owe an obligation to future generations
  • Establishes that sustainable development can be achieved only through the involvement of all stakeholders
  • Links government accountability and environmental protection
  • Focuses on interactions between the public and public authorities in a democratic context.

The subject of the Convention goes to the heart of the relationship between people and governments. The Convention is not only an environmental agreement, it is also a Convention about government accountability, transparency and responsiveness.

The Aarhus Convention grants the public rights and imposes on Parties and public authorities obligations regarding access to information and public participation and access to justice.

The Aarhus Convention is also forging a new process for public participation in the negotiation and implementation of international agreements.

Find the text of the Convention here.