This guest post was written by Lieselot Verdonck. Lieselot is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Human Rights Centre, Faculty of Law of Ghent University. More information on the author can be found here.
Over the years, the ECtHR has gradually built its jurisprudence according to which Article 8 grants a right to access to information for individuals exposed to health risks caused by polluting industrial activities. The judgment in Vilnes & Others v. Norway has extended this settled case law in three ways. Firstly, the Court deepened the substance of this right to information by holding that in certain circumstances the State’s obligation to provide access to information encompasses a duty to actually provide such information (i.e. even if the individuals exposed to health risks have not been refused access to information). Secondly, the Court broadened the scope of application of this right to occupational health risks. Thirdly, the Court held that information essential to assess health risks has to be provided even if there is scientific uncertainty about the precise nature and extent of these risks.