The Clean Air Action Group turns to the Supreme Court because of the air quality plan in Budapest

The Clean Air Action Group filed a lawsuit in court in 2018 because the Green Authority's air quality plan for Budapest and its surroundings, in its current form, is not suitable for a substantial reduction of air pollution. In its judgment, the Metropolitan Court interpreted that such plans could not be effectively challenged in court, so the NGO turned to the Supreme Court for review.

With the help of the international environmental law organization ClientEarth and the Environmental Management and Law Association (EMLA), the Clean Air Action Group sued the relevant government office two years ago to immediately review the plan to reduce air pollution in and around the capital and implement a plan that they are able to fulfil as soon as possible. “Our goal is for the air quality plan not only to be an unbounded exchange of ideas, but also to prescribe and call for measures that effectively and in a short time reduce pollution that threatens the health of all of us,” said András Lukács, President of the Clean Air Action Group.

After several hearings, the Metropolitan Court dismissed the civil action, arguing that the preparation of air quality plans is a purely administrative task that does not constitute an administrative act that can be challenged in court. According to environmental organizations, this interpretation significantly reduces the effectiveness of the plans, and also infringes national, EU and other international legislation, as well as European court precedent, which clearly indicate that air quality plans can be challenged in court by NGOs. ClientEarth has already coordinated similar legal proceedings in several European countries, which also confirms that interpretation. Therefore, the Clean Air Action Group filed a request for judicial review with the Supreme Court, partly for the development of the appropriate Hungarian legal practice, but mostly to protect the health of the Hungarian people.

“EU law also obliges Hungary to comply with air quality standards. Unfortunately, the current air quality plan for Budapest and its surroundings is too weak to improve the pollution situation in the shortest possible time. We all have the right to breathe clean air. By denying the court of first instance effective access to justice, it is also denying this right to the people of Budapest,” explained ClientEarth's lawyer, Agnieszka Warszo-Buchanan.