The EU Commission launched a consultation Thursday on the Environmental Liability Directive, the EU framework to prevent and remedy damage to land, water and biodiversity based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
The Directive on environmental liability aims to establish a framework of environmental liability, based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, to better prevent and remedy environmental damage. Under the Directive, operators have a legal responsibility to prevent and restore any environmental damage caused by their activities. Such activities include the running of industrial or waste facilities and water abstraction and impoundment.
Damage can arise from accidents, incidents or inadequate management. It can also arise from activities such as illegal landfills, illegal logging or illegal peat extraction. Remediation can include, for example, restoration of damaged habitats listed in the Habitats Directive. Making operators financially liable for preventing and remedying environmental damage is intended to induce them to develop practices that minimise the risk that their activities will cause such damage.
“Many polluted sites in Europe remain today without proper cleaning up and further environmental remediation. In many cases, paying to repair the damage is done not by those responsible for it, but from the public purse, including EU funds,” said Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius: “The Environmental Liability Directive is an essential law that helps prevent and fully repair ecological damage at the charge of those who have caused it. But we need to make sure the EU rules deliver to their full potential on our zero pollution ambition.”
The EU executive is consulting citizens and interested parties for views on the implementation of the existing framework. This will feed into the evaluation process of the Environmental Liability Directive, which is due to last a year. The evaluation of the Directive is a legal requirement and will contribute to the EU’s zero pollution ambition. It aims to improve national compliance with EU pollution prevention laws. The public consultation is open for feedback until 4 August 2022.