Lawsuits and decisions

The obligation to take measures for air quality protection

The case started in 2011 when two inhabitants of Ostrava, who live in part of the city, Radvanice and Bartovice, where the concentrations of hazardous substances in air breaches the limits on a long-term basis, filed an administrative lawsuit. Legal expertise was provided by lawyers from Frank Bold. The claimants argued that there was an unlawful interference with their rights when the regional authority, and later on the Ministry of Environment, failed to adopt an action plan of measures for the area with worsened air quality. Regional Court in Ostrava upheld the claim and decided that the regional authority acted unlawfully when they failed to adopt efficient interim measures for air quality protection in the excessively polluted city parts. The obligation of the regional authority to adopt the measures through an action plan arises from the Protection of Air Act and the Council Directive 96/62/EC on ambient air quality assessment and management. The Regional Court’s decision was afterwards approved also by the Supreme Administrative Court.

The decision of Regional Court in Ostrava in Czech is available here “KS Ostrava_anonymizovano

The decision of Supreme Administrative Court in Czech is available here “NSS_anonymizovano

Air pollution and just satisfaction for harm to health

The claimant filed a civil lawsuit demanding just satisfaction for immaterial harm that was caused to them by an illegal action of the regional authority. The regional authority acted unlawfully when they did not take adequate efficient measures assuring air quality protection in a region where the limit values for air pollution were breached on a long term basis. In Ostrava, the air quality limits for particles PM2,5 and PM10 which are hazardous for human health and also with carcinogenic and mutagenic benzo(a)pyrene exceed the legally binding limits on a long term basis. The claimants, inhabitants of the most polluted area, argue that as a result of the unlawful steps of the regional authority and the consequent air pollution they have suffered an immaterial harm to health. The procedures have not ended yet, the case is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

Challenge to air quality management plan in Brno

Two of the local citizens together with a local NGO, with support of legal experts from Frank Bold, filed an administrative lawsuit challenging the air quality management plan in Brno in 2016. The program which was prepared by the Ministry of Environment is, according to the claimants, insufficient, since it does not reassure the achievement of the legal air pollution limits “in the shortest time possible”, as the law requires. To fulfil this requirement, the adopted measures would have to be more specific, with clear priorities in the given region and with a realistically set timeframe for its implementation. In Brno the air quality limit values for PM10 particles, NO2 and target limit value for benzo(a)pyrene are breached. The procedure has not ended yet, the lawsuit is currently pending before the Supreme Administrative Court as the court of second instance.

Challenge to air quality management plan in Ostrava

Ostrava is the most polluted city in the Czech Republic. In its agglomeration the air quality limit values set by European law for NO2, PM10 particles and target limit value for benzo(a)pyren are breached on a long term basis. The level of pollution in Ostrava takes off two years of life expectancy. Two citizens and a local NGO filed an administrative lawsuit challenging the Air Quality Management Plan in Ostrava in 2016. Frank Bold has provided legal expertise. The program which was prepared by the Ministry of Environment is, according to the claimants, insufficient, since it does not reassure the achievement of the legal air pollution limits in "the shortest time possible”, as the law requires. To fulfil this requirement, the adopted measures would have to be more specific, with clear priorities in the given region and with a realistically timeframe.

The Czech Supreme Administrative Court rendered a ground-breaking judgement shortly before Christmas 2017, revoking parts of the Ostrava Air Quality Plan due to a breach of the EU and respective national legislation. The Court ruled that the plan was insufficient and not fully in compliance with the EU Air Quality Directive. The court also quashed a previous decision of the Municipal Court in Prague, which ruled in favour of Ministry of the Environment. Specifically the Court was missing a timeline of implementation of individual measures and quantified estimate of their efficiency and contribution on decreasing the air pollution in the agglomeration. The Court stated, that expecting improvement of air quality based on the current air quality plan could resemble „waiting for Godot“. The Ministry of Environment will now have to review and rework the air quality plan. It is a groundbreaking judgement in the Czech context, the first significant victory for air quality in the Czech Republic and a precedent for other challenged air quality plan cases.

Challenge to air quality management plan in Prague

Poor air quality is a serious health problem in Prague. Traffic is the main source of air pollution, especially high levels of PM10, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, benzo(a)pyren and ozone. With support of legal experts from Frank Bold and ClientEarth, a local NGO and local citizens, filed an administrative lawsuit challenging the Air Quality Management Plan in Prague in 2016. The program which was prepared by the Ministry of Environment is, according to the claimants, insufficient, since it does not reassure the achievement of the legal air pollution limits in "the shortest time possible”. To fulfil this requirement, the adopted measures would have to be more specific, with clear priorities in the given region and with a realistically timeframe for its implementation. In Prague the air quality limit values for PM10 particles, NO2 and target limit value for benzo(a)pyrene are breached. In February 2018, the Prague Municipal Court ruled today in favour better protection of human health from air pollution. The Court revoked most of Prague's Air Quality Management Plan. Three out of four parts of the plan were quashed and the Ministry of Environment will have to draw up a new plan meeting the requirements of the Air Quality Directive. After delivering the groundbreaking judgement for the Ostrava air quality plan, the decision on Prague case of local air quality plan was delivered accordingly by the first instance court. The court leaned heavily on the Ostrava Judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court, wherefore the Prague court then partially quashed the Prague air quality plan similarly as in the Ostrava case.

Challenge to air quality management plan in Usti region

A local NGO together with one of the local citizens, with support of legal experts from Frank Bold, filed an administrative lawsuit challenging the Air Quality Management Plan in Usti region in 2016. The program which was prepared by the Ministry of Environment is, according to the claimants, insufficient, since it does not reassure the achievement of the legal air pollution limits “in the shortest time possible”, as the law requires. To fulfil this requirement, the adopted measures would have to be more specific, with clear priorities in the given region and with a realistically timeframe. Ustí nad Labem is an industrial region on the Northwestern border of the Czech Republic. Its main sources of pollution are coal-fired steam power plants, traffic and heating of households. The air quality limit values for PM10, NO2 and target limit value for benzo(a)pyrene are breached. In February 2018, the Supreme Administrative Court followed the Ostrava case and revoked 3 out of 5 parts of the Air Quality Plan. The Ministry will now have to prepare a new Air Quality Management Plan for the region.


Ein Projekt von
Partner: Deutsche Umwelthilfe
Partner: Frank Bold
Finanziert durch
Partner: Life

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