30 April 2019

Court case on wind energy in nature reserve

9 students from Utrecht in mock trial in Brussels for EU Green Week

EU Green Week

Students from four European member states, including 9 from Utrecht University, are holding a trial concerning European environmental law in a mock court. It is one of the events of the EU Green Week (13-17 May), a conference on European environmental law. The Utrecht students are working on a fictional case concerning the placement of wind turbines.

Specifically, it concerns the construction of five wind turbines in a made up Natura 2000 area in the province of Utrecht, by a fictional company, Windpower B.V. Birds and bats may die and it will disturb their breeding season. Students must weigh the interests of EU nature conservation law, the Habitats and Birds Directives, but also of the Gedeputeerde Staten (provincial authority) of Utrecht, a local nature association, the windpower company, etc. First, the students contest each other in Utrecht in a moot court session. Some represent the authority, some an NGO and some the company. The participating students from other EU countries do the same in their own country, with a similar environmental lawsuit

How does the national court interpret the law ?

On May 17, the teams meet in Brussels during a public session and share the results of their mock courts. How did their national courts interpret the law? How was this applied by the government, what arguments were put on the table and what was the final result of the trial? The interesting thing is the comparison: you see whether EU law, which is the same for all Member States, is applied in the same way. Or you see that the results are very different and why. This experience of how EU law works in practice in the Member States is a rare opportunity and the students can also enter into discussions with the public.


The participating students from Utrecht study European law or Constitutional and Administrative law. Most have an extra interest in environmental law or European law. The participants are: Antoine Katgert, Maartje Boekkooi, Nicole Brons, Pavla Cihlárová, Laura Hildt, Selma Kiliçoglu, Zola van der Maas, Tess Linders, Sophie Courbois.

They are guided and supervised by prof.dr. Chris Backes, dr. Sanne Akerboom en dr. Herman Kasper Gilissen.

EU Green Week logo

The mock court is part of the EU Green Week, which focuses on EU environmental law this year. During the week (13-17 May 2019), there will be events throughout Europe on this theme, with a closing summit in Brussels from 15 to 17 May.