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Studies recommend that Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) should cover more types of damage

More activities and types of damage should be added to the ELD directive according to the latest studies that have been published by the European Commission on the scope and effectiveness of the ELD, the interpretations of significant biodiversity damage and a legislative analysis of the implementation of the existing directive in 11 Member States. The Commission is currently reviewing the 2004 directive and is due to report to MEPs and Member States soon.

The study suggests any operator that damages land, water or protected habitats and species should be held strictly liable. At the moment, there is only strict liability for activities such as transport of dangerous or polluting goods and waste management. Less stringent fault-based liability rules apply to other activities that damage biodiversity and the studies have found a poor level of coordination between services in the Member States responsible for the habitats directive and those responsible for ELD.  Broadening the rules would be in line with the polluter pays principle. Another option suggested includes the inclusion of all mining and activities involving invasive alien species and pipelines transporting dangerous substances. Damage to air should also be considered. The studies are sceptical about other types of damage like landscapes as it would be hard to prove when this would be significant. Varying interpretations of “significant” damage are already leading to confusion according to the study and Member States reporting of ELD cases varies significantly. Eight Member States including Austria, Denmark and France have yet to report a single incident, while there have been more than 50 ELD cases in Greece and Germany. READ MORE


Photo: Clyde Robinson

Issue 33