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Ministry must rewrite plan cutting pollution in Ostrava

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Brno/Ostrava/Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) – The Czech Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) on Wednesday cancelled some parts of the programme for improvement of air quality in the industrial area surrounding the city of Ostrava, north Moravia, because the programme would not bring improvement soon enough, it writes on its website.

The Environment Ministry, which is to correct the shortcomings in the programme, considers the NSS decision unfortunate, its spokeswoman Dominika Pospisilova said.

The NSS abolished the setting of the caps on emissions for road transport since “the number of cases to which the measure would apply would actually be cut to zero.”

In its present version, the effects of the programme could be assessed only in 2020, which the NSS labelled “waiting for Godot.”

The whole case was initiated by a man from an Ostrava suburb who filed a complaint against the ministry’s programme issued in April 2016 with the Prague Municipal Court. The man claimed that the programme would not guarantee the dropping of pollution to acceptable levels by 2020.

The Prague Municipal Court rejected his complaint, but the NSS sided with most of his reservations.

In 2014, the Environment Ministry was ordered to work out a programme for lowering pollution.

The NSS concluded that the ministry has not sufficiently met its duty.

The programme includes most of the possible measures, but it expects the acceptable levels to be reached only if all of them are implemented by 2020. At the same time, only the part that says how the authorities must proceed in introducing stricter permissions for the operation of industrial sources of pollution is legally binding. The NSS left this part in effect.

The measures for cutting emissions from transport and household heating included measures that were not legally binding, such as building park and ride facilities and introducing low emission zones by regional and municipal authorities.

“If it turned out in future that the programme was not able to peform its role even after the required correction, the administrative courts would have to draw consequences from it. It cannot be ruled out that we would for example address the European Court of Justice with a preliminary query in order to assess whether the present Czech rules are in harmony with the European ones,” NSS panel chairman Tomas Langasek said.

Ostrava Mayor Tomas Macura (ANO) told CTK that he would welcome it if the cancellation of some parts of the programme led to it ecoming more specific with a potential of improving the quality of the environment.

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