Mussington v. Development Control Authority [2024] UKPC 3, Privy Council Appeal No 0116 of 2021

Access to Justice Standing

The case involved a judicial review challenge to the planning decision issued for an airport on the island of Barbuda conducted without the benefit of proper EIA and public participation. A lower court dismissed the case for lack of standing on the ground that the petitioner, John Mussington, was merely a “busybody.”

The Privy Council criticized the lower court’s narrow and restricted approach to standing, declaring:

Where an application for judicial review involves issues of environmental concern it is not necessary that the applicant demonstrates an expertise in the subject matter. All that is required is that they demonstrate some knowledge or concern for the subject. So an amateur ornithologist or bird-watcher might raise a concern about the potential loss of a bird’s habitat; or a fisherman about the effect of a hydro-electric scheme on fish; or a local historian about the effect on an archaeological or historical site; or a local resident on the loss of a local beauty spot frequented by the local community. In Walton Lord Hope in effect asked the rhetorical question, ‘Who speaks for the ospreys?’. The answer is whoever can demonstrate a genuine interest in their fate.

Para. 57