A Polish spa town and tourist favourite has been illegally charging visitors an environmental fee while flouting air quality standards, the Regional Administrative Court in Krakow decided on Monday. The verdict is the result of a claim by a tourist Bogdan Achimescu supported by ClientEarth.
Achimescu, who visited Zakopane in 2015, questioned the fee on the basis that it couldn’t be taken from by a town and region which didn’t comply to the air quality standards.
The judge agreed that Zakopane had not reached standards which would allow local authorities charging the fee.
“This case is about more than the fee: it’s about citizens’ right to clean air,” Lawyer Malgorzata Smolak said after the court hearing. “For each individual the financial impact is small, but the air quality problems are a huge burden on their health.
“Ignoring this health problem could be costly to public authorities. The verdict shows the authorities can’t neglect the air problem anymore,” she added.