Austrian Supreme Administrative Court: Access to Justice is applicable since 2009
In a stunning decision, the Austrian Supreme Administrative Court ruled that environmental NGOs must be granted access to justice dating back to 2009 – the year the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR) entered into force. The court argues that following the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Case C-664/15, the legal standing of environmental NGOs is based on both the Aarhus Convention and Article 47 of the CFR. As the CFR entered into force in 2009, the court considers this as the moment relevant for the legal standing of NGOs. In turn, this renders the legal restriction defined by the Austrian legislator only allowing challenges up until one year prior to 2018 obsolete. This is yet another ruling supporting legal protection of the public.
European Court of Justice broadens legal protection regarding air quality
The ECJ recently published its decision in Case C-732/17 regarding access to justice of the public concerned in air quality matters. The court ruled that it must be possible for the public to challenge where air quality monitoring stations are placed. After all, measures to improve air quality are based on the monitoring results and if those are not accurate, the measures might fall short of what is required, thus harming public health. Additionally the court found it unlawful to only act on transgressions of air quality measurements which are combined and where an average is taken. Therefore, even the result of one single station is sufficient to trigger the response mechanism of the Ambient Air Quality Directive.
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