The Supreme Court has this week refused permission to appeal against the decision made by the Court of Appeal in January allowing the Environment Agency’s appeal in this case brought by Mathew Richards, a five year old child with serious health problems. The case concerns pollution from a landfill waste site near Mathew’s home in Silverdale, Staffordshire. There is undisputed evidence that ongoing pollution from the site is shortening Mathew’s life.
The Supreme Court have declined to consider Mathew’s case, saying that his application ‘does not raise an arguable point of law in the context of this case’.
Lawyers for Mathew are now preparing to ask the European Court of Human Rights to consider urgently whether the failure to take action to prevent further damage to Mathew’s health, shortening his life expectancy, is a breach of his human rights.
Mathew’s mother Rebecca Currie said:
‘I feel that Mathew has been completely let down, first of all by the Environment Agency who are meant to protect us from dangers like poisoned air, and now by the legal system. Despite the High Court recognising the seriousness of this situation and telling the Environment Agency to do more to stop the scandal of a private company being able to pollute the air that we breathe, we are now back where we started. I am determined not to give up. The stink in our village continues and Mathew continues to be poorly. Seeing my child struggle to breathe, and blood pouring from his nose, I know every parent will understand that I have to continue to do all I can. This now means asking the European Court of Human Rights to step up where our own courts have failed.’
Mathew’s solicitor Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine said:
‘The Supreme Court has missed the opportunity to clarify the correct approach to the regulation of environmental hazards. This is extremely disappointing for Mathew and his community, who seek to have the threat to Mathew’s life taken seriously. The reference in the decision to refuse permission to the context of this case is hard to understand as the Court were provided with up to date evidence from two medical consultants that the continued air pollution from Walleys Quarry Landfill Site is still putting Mathew at risk of premature death in adulthood and continues to therefore pose a threat to his life. Mathew’s lawyers are very disappointed that Mathew and his community have been unable to secure the action needed from the UK courts. This leaves Mathew in the unenviable position of having to seek justice in an international court.’