IN 1996, Pezinok’s old landfill, which was opened in 1964, was privatised and sold to a company led by businessman Ján Man Sr. A year later the state authorities re-classified the landfill from a ‘local’ site to a ‘regional’ one. In September 2002, Man Sr’s company, Ekologická Skládka, requested a land use permit to build a new landfill. However, the municipality of Pezinok that same year blocked the new landfill site by adopting a new master plan from which it was removed.
The local construction office in Pezinok refused to approve a November 2006 application to open a landfill site, but the firm then turned to the Regional Construction Office (KSÚ) in Bratislava, which from August 2006 was led by Ján Man Jr. Man Jr is the son of Ján Man Sr and was, at the time of the application, a member of the supervisory board of Ekologická Skládka, according to a chronology compiled by Via Iuris.
In May 2007, the KSÚ issued a construction permit, in contradiction to Pezinok’s master plan, and simultaneously refused to provide information about its decision to the town of Pezinok and the public. In September 2007, Man Sr’s company asked the Regional Environment Inspectorate (IŽP) in Bratislava to grant the landfill environmental approval. The authority scheduled a session for December 31, 2007, but told the citizens of Pezinok that it would not publish the decision of the KSÚ, describing it as a trade secret.
In January 2008, the IŽP in Bratislava issued a permit for Ekologická Skládka to construct the new landfill. The citizens of Pezinok immediately challenged the decision and the Slovak Environmental Inspectorate (SIŽP), the national authority, halted the decision on March 4, 2008.
The case provoked massive protests against the landfill, with activists claiming that construction of the site was still continuing despite the SIŽP decision. However, in August, 2008, the SIŽP turned down the activists’ appeals and approved construction of the new landfill. The citizens of Pezinok then turned to the Slovak courts, according to the Via Iuris chronology.
In January 2009, Pezinok citizens went to the Supreme Court to challenge the construction permit granted to the site. It issued a preliminary injunction halting operation of the landfill. However, this did not ultimately stop the owner of the site from operating the facility. In May 2009, Supreme Court Justice Miroslav Gavalec ruled in favour of Pezinok residents opposed to construction of the dump and cancelled the construction permit. The Mans challenged the verdict with the Constitutional Court. Gavalec’s verdict was reversed by the Constitutional Court in May 2010 on the grounds that he had violated the property rights of the landfill site’s owners, and returned the case to the Supreme Court.
Later, the Supreme Court decided to interrupt the proceeding and temporarily suspend the permit for the landfill. The Pezinok dump has been closed since August 2010. The Supreme Court then submitted five questions to the European Court of Justice, seeking a preliminary ruling to explain the extent of the public’s right, under EU law, to participate in procedures for authorising projects that have significant effects on the environment, a chronology prepared by Via Iuris suggests.
In January the European Court of Justice ruled that the public must have access to an urban planning decision concerning the establishment of an installation that has significant effects on the environment, and that protection of trade secrets cannot be invoked as a reason for refusing such access. In its judgment, the court also noted first of all that “a national procedural rule cannot call into question the discretion of national courts to submit a request to the [European] Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling in cases where they have doubts as to the interpretation of EU law”.
Read also: Pezinok dump opponents win case
17. May 2013 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová