Prague will continue to improve air quality

A court ruling has invalidated some of the city’s air quality program

Prague will continue its efforts to improve air quality, despite a recent court ruling. The Prague Municipal Court cancelled a substantial part of the air improvement program called Praha-CZ01, issued by the Ministry of the Environment in May 2016. The city hopes the program’s flaws can be fixed quickly. More ways of reducing pollution are also being examined.

The City of Prague was not a direct participant in the litigation but has been monitoring the situation closely. Activities aimed at improving the air its territory will continue.

The Air Quality Improvement Program is a basic conceptual document that sets out measures to create favourable air quality in the most heavily affected areas of the Czech Republic.

Prague has not received a written justification for the court's judgment yet. However, according to a similar verdict for the Supreme Administrative Court concerning Ostrava, Karviná and Frýdek-Místek, the reason for canceling part of the program was the lack of specificity of the measures, especially with regard to the expected contribution of individual measures to improving air quality and the timetable for the implementation so that the measures can be continuously monitored.

“We firmly believe that the Ministry of the Environment will rectify the program's defects in a short time and re-issue its updated version,” City Councilor Jana Plamínková (STAN), responsible for the environment, said on the City Hall website.

Prague will continue its activities to improve the city’s air quality regardless of the fact that the requirement to implement certain measures is currently not legally binding. The program's objectives, namely to see that legal levels for individual pollutants are not exceeded in the city, have not been challenged by the court. Prague will actively pursue their fulfilment, a City Hall statement said.

"At the same time, we are analyzing the possibility of introducing further measures to improve air quality, which the program itself did not include before its partial abolition. A pilot project for fleet evaluation in Prague is being run on the basis of the measurement of ultrafine exhaust particles,” Plamínková said.

“Also, the regulation of road motor transport during the smog situation has been worked out and we want to focus on air pollution by trucks,” Plamínková said.

“We want to continue with these activities. As the available results of air quality measurements show, thanks to the long-term application of a number of measures by the City of Prague, there is a gradual improvement of the air quality in the city,” she added.

The city has been seeking, for example, to add electric cars to the city fleet and has been running a pilot program to see if electric buses would work on some routes. More recharging stations for electric vehicles are also planned.

Programs to encourage commuters and residents to use trains and public transportation instead of cars have also been put into effect.

Prague has in the past experienced smog alerts, especially in winter. A smog situation is declared when airborne particles of a size designated as PM10 exceed the limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter for 12 hours and are not expected to drop below that threshold for 24 hours.

A regulation limiting some industry takes effect if at least half of the stations in a region over 12 hours show average concentrations of airborne particles exceeding a limit of 150 micrograms per cubic meter, and the situation is not expected to change for 24 hours.

A smog situation can be caused by cold temperatures, inversion and lack of wind. A temperature inversion is an increase in temperature with height, which creates an inversion layer. An inversion can lead to pollution being trapped close to the ground.

Numerous health problems have been linked to smog, It can be especially harmful for senior citizens, children, and people with heart and lung conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma.

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