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ClientEarth Communications

27th September 2016

Air pollution
Access to Justice for a Greener Europe

ClientEarth wins landmark air pollution case in Kraków

Polish judges have sided with ClientEarth and local authorities in an important air pollution case in Kraków, in what is a landmark win for public health.

The Regional Administrative Court dismissed several complaints by private parties concerning a new law set to combat air pollution in the Kraków and Małopolska regions.

"This is a breakthrough victory for the people of Kraków, and Poland as well. The court has shown that local authorities have in their hands an effective tool to combat air pollution," said Małgorzata Smolak, lawyer with ClientEarth.

These regulations, which would prohibit the use of coal in heating systems, are due to come into force in September 2019. The court, presided over by three judges, agreed with local authorities and ClientEarth, and stood by the legality of the new regulations.

The Mayor of Krakow, Jacek Majchrowski, asserted that Kraków will not stop its ongoing fight for clean air. "We will continue to work relentlessly on the problem of air pollution, which we have been doing since 1995. Over the past 21 years we have eliminated twenty-six thousand stoves and five thousand coal-fired boilers."

Ewa Lutomska from KAS said: “Anti-pollution regulations are essential for public health. As studies conducted through the Air Protection Program have clearly shown, houses heated by fossil fuels are the main cause of toxic air in the city. Prohibition is absolutely necessary in order for air quality to reach legal limits”.

This victory comes after one failed attempt to establish anti-pollution regulations. An anti-pollution regulation which aimed to prohibit the use of coal in the heating units was struck down in 2014 by the Regional Administrative Court, who ruled that regulations should not differentiate between different uses of fuel.

Malgorzata Smolak added: "Other regions in Poland should follow Kraków's example. They must prepare their own anti-pollution regulations adapted to their local conditions. Today’s sentence is an important step in tackling the urgent problem of air quality in Poland."

ClientEarth has embarked on a fresh wave of legal cases across Europe. We are already involved with partners in ten legal challenges in Germany. We have launched two cases in the Czech Republic in Brno and Prague. We’ve taken action in Brussels in Belgium. We are taking the UK Government back to court in October. And we have more cases in the pipeline.

But we need your backing. Bringing legal cases is a costly but necessary business, if we are to force action on pollution. Help fund our fight for clean air.