site.btaEnvironmental Organization Says Sofia Authorities Fail to Comply with Court Ruling against Air Pollution, Urges Sofianites to Claim Compensations
The Sofia authorities have failed to implement a court decision that obligated them to take measures for reducing air pollution in the Bulgarian capital, for which the deadline expired on November 25, 2022, the environmental organization For the Earth wrote on its website on Wednesday. The organization now urges Sofianitesto seek compensations.
At the end of 2021, a court found that Sofia Municipality was responsible for wrongful inaction regarding its obligations to manage and control the air quality in the city. The case was filed by For the Earth, Center for Independent Living, Type 2 Diabetes Association, Save Sofia, and the four lawyers. After a lawsuit that lasted four years, the court ruled that the municipality, by its actions and inactions, allowed excessive emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), which led to health risks for citizens. The court also found that the pollution continues and ordered Sofia Municipality to take effective measures to remedy the problem within 12 months. This deadline expired on November 25, 2022.
Most of the measures that the court ordered Sofia Municipality to implement, have not been accomplished, For the Earth said. It goes on to catalogue the failures:
- No rules have been adopted to implement Low Emission Zones;
- A comprehensive connected bicycle network has not been built;
- No analysis has been made of the opportunities to build parks/green walls in areas with excessive pollution;
- No analysis has been done of how urban design affects air quality.
The only measure that has been implemented is introduction of incentives for use of alternative and non-polluting methods of domestic heatingm, according to For the Earth's checklist.
As a matter of fact, the Sofia Municipal Council also planned to phase in low-emissions zones, beginning in December 2022 but the measure was recently postponed for next year. Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova blamed the councilors who moved for the postponement (of Democratic Bulgaria) of boycotting the efforts of the local authorities to address the air pollution issue.
Following the intervention of a working group, the councilors agreed on a scheme whereby in the first year of its existence, the low-emission zone will keep out of the city centre the most polluting cars, increasing the scope of cars every year and also broadening the low-emission zone, first in 2025 and then in 2027. Also, the use of solid fuel for heating will be banned across the city from 2029, which is an year ahead of the initial plan. All this will be put to a vote at the Municipal Council in mid-December.