Data source
Date of text
02 Jun 2006
Seat of court
Seoul
Original language

English

Type of text
National - higher court
Reference number
(2006) KRSC 13
Court name
Supreme Court of Korea
Justice(s)
Kyu-hong
Jae-yoon
Young-ran
Hwang-shik
Sources
InforMEA
Keywords
constitutional law, environmental impact assessment

In this case the appellants requested the appellee, the Korea Rail Network Authority, to prohibit the construction of some of the locations of a tunnel construction as part of long-term express railroad business covering the whole areas of the country.
The Supreme Court was of the view that their constitutional rights regarding the right to environment or the right to defend nature and the provisions of relevant laws such as the Framework Act on Environment Policy could not be interpreted to generate such a specific right to request a prohibition against the construction.
It interpreted Article 35-1 of the Constitution, which stipulated, "all citizens have right to live in a healthy and sound environment, and the country and the citizens shall make effort into preserving the environment". According to the court, this identified the right to environment as a basic constitutional right and at the same time levied the obligation to make effort into preserving the environment on the country and the citizens. The country had the obligation to protect the natural environment in setting up and implementing various development and construction plans so that the citizens who lived in such natural environment could live a healthy and sound life and hand it down to the posterity.
The court also explained that the appellee had to follow the environment impact assessment procedure before implementing the high speed railway projects that went on for a long period of time across the country, and if a new situation was discovered after the environment impact assessment procedure and the possibility of the project to infringe the environmental benefits of the land owners arose and if the previous environment impact assessment procedure was not enough to disperse concerns over such possibility, a new environment impact assessment procedure had to be done or other appropriate measures had to be taken to prevent the infringement of such environmental benefits before implementing the project. Land owners could claim this as their statutory right.
The court decided that there was insufficient possibility that the construction of the tunnel in this case would infringe the environmental benefits. The Korea Rail Network Authority had requested the Korea Geological Engineering Society to assess the environment impact again, and according to that survey, the tunnel in this case was found to not have much impact on the environment. Therefore, the appeal was dismissed.