A Prague court has ruled that the Czech Republic’s air-quality plan for the capital fails to bring air pollution within EU limits.
The Prague Court of First Instance said the Ministry of Environment plans were “too vague and unrealistic” for the deadlines set for 2020, according to the environmental law NGO ClientEarth.
The Czech Republic relies on coal for about half of its electricity production and about 30 per cent of its ground water is polluted because of pesticide use.
Czech news agency Deník said the municipal court ordered the plan to be cancelled and redrawn.
ClientEarth and its partners are awaiting a ruling for a similar case in the Czech second city of Brno near the Slovak border.
After the ruling, ClientEarth lawyer Agnieszka Warso-Buchanan said: “The Czech government has failed to tackle the air pollution crisis in the country but as we can see here, law has the power to fix it and force the authorities to produce an air quality plan that will bring air pollution within legal limits as soon as possible.
“This is a victory for the residents of Prague and for ClientEarth and its partners in Europe who are fighting for clean air. It is a victory for people’s right to breathe clean air and live in a healthier environment – this time in the capital of the Czech Republic,” Warso-Buchanan said.
The Central European nation is one of nine EU members facing European Commission action for infringing agreed air-pollution limits.
EU Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella demanded the Czech government find a solution to its air-quality problems within a week or face legal action.
Residents of Prague, public interest law firm Frank Bold and ClientEarth say the government’s air-quality plan should be replaced with a policy that includes “concrete action” to reduce pollution.
The Czech Republic’s Ministry of the Environment said the court ruling did not repeal the plan but said some parts of the existing pledge were not fully binding.
“The measures proposed by the air-quality plan will continue to be implemented,” said a ministerial spokesperson.
The government says it will propose a solution in the coming weeks.
Since 1982 the number of forest bird species in the country dropped by nearly 15 per cent, while the number of farmland bird species plummeted by more than 33 per cent, Friends of the Earth reported.
The European Air-Quality Index reported that the Czech Republic was among the countries with the worst air quality in the European Union.
Prague. Picture credit: PXHere