R v Inspectorate of Pollution, ex p. Greenpeace (No.2) [1994] 4 All ER 329

Key point

  • Otton J stated that the test of sufficient interest can be considered as a matter of discretion at the hearing stage, and factors to be taken into account include the nature of the applicant (in particular its level of expertise on the issue), the extent of the applicant’s interest and the remedy sought


  • Greenpeace challenged a decision by the Inspectorate of Pollution to grant applications by British Nuclear Fuels to modify existing authorisations for the discharge of nuclear waste so as to conduct testing
  • Here we are only concerned with whether Greenpeace had standing to apply for judicial review

Held (High Court, Queen’s Bench Division)

  • Greenpeace had sufficient interest to apply for judicial review

Otton J

On sufficient interest in general

  • The first stage of the test to be applied on application for leave will exclude persons with “no interest whatsoever” who are “in truth, no more than a meddlesome busybody”: [76]
  • The second stage of the test is to be applied at full hearing as “primarily as one of discretion”, and relevant factors include
    1. the nature of the applicant
    2. the extent of the applicant’s interest in the issue
    3. the remedy sought by the applicant: [78]

On the current facts

  • On the nature of Greenpeace:
    • it is an “entirely responsible and respected body with a genuine concern for the environment”: [81]
    • it also has a high degree of expertise; if it were denied standing, those they represent might not have an effective way to bring the issues before the court and a less well-informed challenge stretch the court’s resources and deprive the court of the assistance it needs to do justice: [82]
  • On Greenpeace’s extent of interest: “[t]he fact that 400,000 supporters in the UK carries less weight than the fact that 2,500 of them come from the Cumbria region.”: [81]
  • On the remedy sought: as that the primary relief here sought is certiorari rather than mandamus, the requirement is less stringent, pursuant to Federation: [83]

Addressing Rose Theatre

  • “I respectfully decline to follow the decision of Schiemann J. in Rose Theatre. Suffice it to say that the circumstances were different, the interest group had been formed for the exclusive purpose of saving the Rose Theatre site and no individual member could show any personal interest in the outcome.”: [86]