Air pollution in Brussels – the courts rule in favour of the Brussels region with regards to checks
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Air pollution in Brussels – the courts rule in favour of the Brussels region with regards to checks

©Belga
©Belga

The Brussels Court of First Instance has ruled in favour of the Brussels Air Quality Control body. The ruling will lead to them working out yearly averages from the results provided by tracking stations located throughout the country. This was announced by the Brussels environment Minister Céline Fremault (cdH).

The case pitted Brussels regional authorities against Brussels residents and ClientEarth, a Dutch NGO. The NGO took the Brussels regional authorities to court on the 6th of June 2016. The dispute was over Air Pollution and in particular the non-respect of European norms and the way Brussels measures air quality. A complaint was submitted to the Court of First instance as well, on the 21st of September the same year.

Mrs Fremault’s cabinet says the judge mostly sided with their lawyers in Friday’s ruling. The ruling says “Brussels authorities effectively keep track of Air Pollution levels in Brussels. They do this by working out yearly averages from the results provided by tracking stations located throughout the country”. The plaintiffs claimed regional authorities should check averages over a much shorter time period.

The courts decided to ask the EU Court of Justice (CJUE) a prejudicial question on whether infractions would be determined from the average of the results provided by all the tracking stations, or whether just one station’s results were too high. The judge also asked the CJUE if a national judge could rule on such a case, as the issue has already been raised with European authorities as part of a European level court case regarding Brussels.  

Mrs Fremault’s cabinet will continue to instigate measures to improve air quality in Brussels, which includes creating a low emission zone on the 1st of January 2018. The bill on pollution spikes will also be reformed very soon. The Minister reminded people that Brussels authorities has instigated a series of measures such as energy bonuses to improve building insulation. Not forgetting Cobrace and Mobility plans for businesses to encourage more environmentally-friendly commuting. These measures have already reduced polluting emissions.  

Sarah Johansson (Source: Belga)