Serbia's Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institut (RERI) filed a lawsuit with the Belgrade Higher Court on Wednesday against the country's power company EPS, charging it to endangering public health by pollution from its thermal power plants.
Jovan Rajic, a lawyer and the RERI Managing Board president, said the pollution from two thermal plants, ‘Nikola Tesla’ and ‘Kosotolac,’ spread across Serbia’s borders and added their sulfur dioxide emissions were six times higher than permitted.
The National Plan for Reducing Emission (NERP) set the allowed emissions until 2027.
„The lawsuit demands EPS to adjust the emissions to the permitted level form 2021-2027,“ Rajic said. The aim of the reduced emissions should affect the people’s health, he adds.
Rajic said the lawsuit was the first of the kind in Serbia and that the law article it was based on had been in force for quite some time, but that no one had so far used it in a form and size of the RERI’s suit.
He added the Court was the last instance RERI addressed to after it tried to alert the Environment Ministry’s inspection which provided different excuses for not checking the complaint, saying EPS did not violate the regulations.
After it became clear the inspection would reveal nothing, RERI was left with no option but to fila the lawsuit, Rajic said.
According to him, the lawsuit is backed by experts’ opinion, based on the international findings, which say the two thermal power plants annually emitted 300,000 tonnes of sulfur dioxide. In comparison, some 150 power plants in the European Union emitted only twice as much – about 600,000 tonnes.
Rajic said RERI did not exclude the possibility of addressing international courts.
However, he said he expected that decarbonisation would be mandatory in the whole of Europe, but that Serbia should do it on its own before being forced to which would be much more expensive.
Rajic said that similar lawsuits in Europe had „different success,“ significantly „in the countries with fragile democracies which more depend on coal like Poland and Bulgaria.“
„In democratic countries like England, two verdicts for air pollution were passed against London last year alone, since a court only dealt with the facts and laws,“ Rajic said.