Case Summary: R (on the application of Greenpeace Ltd) -v- Inspectorate of Pollution & Anor. (No 2) [1994] 4 All ER 329


United Kingdom/England & Wales

Where a non-governmental organisation had a genuine and good faith concern in the environment and was internationally recognised with expertise at its disposal, the English High Court granted standing to judicially review a decision to authorise discharge of radioactive waste.


Greenpeace Ltd is a well-known campaign organisation whose principal aim was to protect the natural environment. They sought to judicially review a government decision to authorise British Nuclear Fuels Plc to discharge radioactive waste from their premises at Sellafield.


The High Court found that Greenpeace had standing, however refused to grant relief.


The High Court applied the two-stage test of sufficient interest developed in R (ex parte National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Limited) -v- Commissioners of Inland Revenue [1981] UKHL 2.

Greenpeace had a genuine good faith concern for the environment and the activities conducted in Sellafield. Greenpeace International had 5 million supporters worldwide and 2,500 in the affected area. They enjoyed consultative and accreditation status with various UN bodies. They had expertise at their disposal. They were in a position to mount a focused and relevant challenge, which would ensure an expedited substantive hearing.

If standing were denied to Greenpeace, those they represented might not have an effective means of bringing the issues before the Court.

Points of note

This decision opens the door for non-governmental organisations acting in good faith and with the relevant experience and expertise to bring proceedings where there is no other suitable applicant.

However, the Court emphasised that it must not be assumed that any interest group will automatically be granted standing. The two-stage test was to be applied on a case-by-case basis.

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