What is Environmental Law

Are you wondering what exactly environmental law is? Did you know that it is not the same as Ecological Law and that it is one of the most complex legal branches that exist?

If you are interested in knowing this type of right in depth, do not hesitate to continue reading this article in which we explain what environmental law is with a simple definition and we offer you a practical summary on the subject so that you can begin to delve into this complex legal branch that is related to nature or the environment.

What is Environmental Law – simple definition

As an introduction to the topic for the ordinary citizen, here we explain what environmental law is with a simple definition. Roughly speaking, environmental law is:

” The set of legal norms that regulates human activities to protect the environment or nature “.

However, this branch of law , which, explained in those words, may seem like a fairly simple law, turns out to be one of the most complex legal branches that exist to date.

Environmental Law: summary

Compared to other branches of law, it can be said that environmental law is one of the most specific because it is in charge of a limited branch of the legal reality, being the one in charge of establishing the legislation and control of the environment , with the main objective of conservation and preservationof the same. As a consequence, we find ourselves before environmental legislation with a multisectoral character and with an important technical component, integrating both the legal and scientific branches, constituting a point of connection between them, with the common goal of reaching the most efficient solution. for each case, with the aim that this protection can be effective in terms of its legal effectiveness. As a consequence of this, we are faced with a combination of legal norms, both past and current, since they must be updated according to the environmental reality in which we find ourselves, which is the result of the occasional need to urgently resolve needs that require immediate regulation.

The complexity represented by environmental law was already expressed by our Constitutional Court, specifically in Judgment 102/1995 of June 26, 1995, alleging that:

“ The environment cannot be reduced to the mere sum or juxtaposition of natural resources and their physical base, but rather is the complex network of relationships between all those elements that, by themselves, have their own prior existence, but whose interconnection endows them with a transcendent meaning, beyond the individual of each one”

Environmental law is a deeply internationalized law, this is due to the global dimension that the environment itself has, therefore finding ourselves before resources whose conservation requires international action, which would not be possible without consensual regulations, pursuing a common action, in which each state assumes its share of responsibility.

As a direct consequence of this internationality, we are facing a multisectoral legislation with a high technical component where several regulatory levels are distinguished, which are carried out by the different public administrations, since these are the ones in charge of looking after the public interests, arranging for This involves different intervention instruments in terms of environmental protection , some of these instruments are the creation of different environmental legislation and regulations , thus finding regulations at the international, community, state, regional and even municipal levels, integrating issues such as:

  • Sanitary protection , the relationship between the two being evident, specifically to counteract epidemics and diseases that may arise as a result of poor environmental management.
  • The defense of property , regulating, among other factors, acoustic emissions or of another nature that people do not have the duty to bear.
  • Market techniques , regarding the relationship that exists between environmental protection and the techniques that are used by companies to position themselves or even intervene in a specific market; among others.

For this reason, the protection of the environment has ended up becoming one of the keys to ensure social development, trying to protect a common good, which has become a social demand, since it is closely linked to health and quality. of life, the environment being a common denominator in policies that at first glance might seem unrelated to this environmental protection.

Environmental Law Regulations – summary

As for the regulations created by the different administrations, they revolve around the character of “common good” that the environment possesses, having neither more nor less than a preventive purpose, thus seeking to avoid damage to the environment , with a prior to subsequent restoration. In turn, a sanctioning action is established by the administration for cases of non-compliance. Regarding sanctioning liability, we find that the Spanish legal system, under the provisions of article 45.3 of the Spanish Constitution, which also provides for criminal liability for damage caused to natural resources, fauna and flora , among others.

Regarding the aforementioned article 45 of the Spanish Constitution, it establishes that:

  1. “Everyone has the right to enjoy an adequate environment for the development of the person, as well as the duty to preserve it.
  2. The public powers will ensure the rational use of all natural resources, in order to protect and improve the quality of life and defend and restore the environment, based on the indispensable collective solidarity.
  3. For those who violate the provisions of the preceding section, in the terms established by law, criminal or, where appropriate, administrative sanctions will be established, as well as the obligation to repair the damage caused.”

Therefore, said article configures the environment as a good whose enjoyment is a right of all citizens and both they and the public powers have the obligation to conserve it. Due to this, everyone has the right to demand that the administrations adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the protection of the environment, having for this purpose public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

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