More than half of the EU’s Member States are failing to share crucial information about highly-polluting activities effectively online. Many are failing to meet even the minimum requirements for transparency required by EU law.
European Environmental Bureau (EEB) research into 26 EU Member States, Norway and a number of regional authorities has found a huge divergence in the quality and quantity of information available.
The report ‘Burning: The Evidence’, published today, found Norway, Ireland and Bulgaria are offering their citizens excellent access to information but that essential documents were missing in Austria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, and the United Kingdom. The report’s key findings are displayed on the interactive map below.
The information concerned includes permitting conditions for all major industrial plants in the EU, including coal-fired power stations, large waste incinerators and intensive agricultural facilities. The findings pose serious questions about some countries’ commitment to European environmental protections and compliance with international access to information requirements.
The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations with 140 members in over 30 countries.
The report’s key findings are displayed on an interactive map:
Report author and EEB policy manager Christian Schaible said:
The information we looked for concerns the most polluting industrial installations in Europe. It’s everything from giant coal-burning power stations and refineries to intensively reared livestock. We looked in particular at large power plants because these are the biggest single-source polluters in Europe and there’s a huge public interest in this information being freely available.
Researchers looked for the minimum information required by the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive, a key European law that’s supposed to help reduce pollution and raise standards across a range of big industries. The law requires authorities to publish operating permits online alongside a justification for the permit being issued and certain other specific information. Some Member States went further and shared significant amounts of other relevant data, including details data on the quantity and type of pollution being emitted.
The report’s publication come on the day a coalition of NGOs launched a major new campaign to take Europe Beyond Coal and just weeks after environmental groups slammed the EU for refusing to accept a UN ruling that it is failing to comply with the requirements of the Aarhus Convention, an international law that should guarantee the public access to environmental information, decision-making and justice.
Links to all of the websites assessed for this report are available here.