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Citizens near buildings without an EIA could be compensated

Citizens who have been negatively affected by a project built without an environmental impact assessment (EIA), could be due compensation according to a ruling by the EU court. The court was assessing a case brought forward by an Austrian woman who is living next to Vienna airport. She is seeking compensation for the decrease in value to her property caused by noise pollution that has increased as the airport has been expanded. Austria joined the EU in 1996 and is therefore required to submit an EIA to establish whether projects are likely to have significant effects on the environment. Though Vienna airport has been developed several times since 1996, no environmental assessment has been conducted. The press release stated that ‘the fact that an assessment of the environmental impact of a project has not been carried out, in breach of EU law, does not in principle, by itself, render the State liable for purely pecuniary damage. However, the State may be so liable if the national court finds, in particular, that there is a direct causal link between the fact that no assessment was carried out and the damage sustained’. This case could set the precedent whereby any EU citizen can claim compensation for lost property value under the EIA, something that is not possible under other EU environmental laws. READ MORE

Issue 21