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New bill enables authorities to check household way of heating

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Prague, Dec 14 (CTK) – Czech authorities are to be empowered to check what households use for heating and impose fines, under a draft amendment to the air protection bill the government approved on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) told journalists.

The draft will be submitted to parliament now.

Belobradek said the ministers for the KDU-CSL abstained from the vote on Monday as they fear the decision may infringe on people´s privacy.

This is also why the bill has many critics.

“I objected that the bill enables a forcible entry into dwelling. We were asserted by the Government Legislative Council and the [Environment] Ministry that it does not violate the constitutional principle according to which the police or any other body can enter a private house or flat only based on a court decision,” Belobradek said.

In a report accompanying its bill, the ministry wrote that the Czech Republic has problem with a large number of outdated heaters that enable the burning of wastes at variance with law.

The ministry proposed that the authorities be enabled to check the heaters in the households that repeatedly come under suspicion. First, the owner would receive a letter of warning. If the suspicious heating repeated, the inspection would visit the house.

Those who would not let the inspector in would be fined up to 50,000 crowns.

The draft amendment enables people to submit pieces of evidence, such as photos or videos with a neighbour´s suspiciously smoking chimney, to the authorities.

The checks are to start as from January 2017.

“The Government Legislative Council has confirmed our view that the untouchability of people´s homes is not unchallengeable. If you threaten people´s health, which you undoubtedly do by burning wastes,…the constitution enables to break the principle of home´s untouchability with the aim to protect people´s health,” Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) told CTK previously.

He said checks of households are common in neighbouring countries.

The draft amendment also specifies the rules for declaring and terminating smog situations and regulations.

It is also to enable that German emission plaques be acknowledged in the low-emission zones that are to be established in the Czech Republic.

Environmentalists say the bill does not include instruments focusing on the main sources of pollution, which is the coal heating, car traffic and coal-heated power plants, while it only introduces the checks of households.

The environmentalists call the measure ineffective. They suggest that Czech towns, like their Polish counterparts, be enabled to ban brown coal burning by households in selected localities such as spa resorts.

The environmentalists also wants the government to raise the contributions that companies and power plants pay for burning fossil fuels.

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