PRESS STATEMENT | UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and Environment Admitted in Critical Coal Case

Date: 13/11/2020

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, David Boyd, has been admitted as a friend of the court in the matter of  The Trustees for the Time Being of Groundwork Trust & 1 other v the Minister of Environmental Affairs & 4 others. Mr Boyd is represented by Lawyers for Human Rights in this matter.

The case, which was brought by the environmental justice group Groundwork Trust and the Vukani Environmental Justice Alliance, concerns the toxic levels of ambient air pollution caused by coal-fired power generation projects in the Highveld priority area, situated in Mpumalanga.

The Special Rapporteur has been admitted in order to provide relevant evidence, based on expert opinion, on the adverse impacts of air pollution and the enjoyment of human rights.

“We are pleased that the Special Rapporteur will be able to lend his considerable expertise to the court in assessing the links between pollution and human rights” said Robin Lenahan, legal practitioner at Lawyers for Human Rights.

The Applicants  in the main matter seek an order declaring that the levels of air pollution in the area are in breach of the constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being and an order declaring that the Minister has a legal duty to prescribe regulations to give legal effect to the Highveld air quality management plan.

The matter will be heard in the Pretoria High Court from 17 – 19 May 2021.

For more information please contact:

Robin Lenahan at or Michael Clements at


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