Bratislava, Slovakia

Slovak court defends citizens’ right to clean air in Bratislava

Residents in Slovakia’s capital have won their court battle for clean air after a court ruled that the city’s Air Quality Plan breaches both Slovak and European laws.

The Regional Court in Bratislava defended the rights of a group of 10 citizens from the city and non-governmental environmental organisations CEPTA, ClientEarth, VIA IURIS and Cyclokoalicia.

The Air Quality Improvement Programme, prepared by Bratislava’s District Authority is vague and absent of any specific goals set by the EU Air Quality Directive.

As a result of the ruling, the Bratislava District Authority will have to draft a new Programme that includes effective measures to improve air quality in the city in the shortest possible time.

ClientEarth lawyer Agnieszka Warso-Buchanan said: “As a member of the European Union, Slovakia must ensure that laws designed to protect people from harmful air pollution are respected and enforced. However, a large part of the Slovak population, especially people living in cities like Bratislava, are still exposed to illegal levels of pollution that continue to threaten human health.

“The Slovak court made it clear today that the Air Quality Plan is not working and must be rewritten. The authorities must now ensure it improves air quality to meet the legal limits as soon as possible.”

Dana Mareková, a clean air activist from Bratislava added: “The court’s decision gives us hope that air quality in Slovakia will improve.

“We believe that the court’s decision will lead to programmes that will better protect our health from the harmful substances we currently breathe.”

The latest World Health Organisation report on air pollution and child health found that every day around 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion) breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk.

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