Commission Takes Spain To Court Over Non-Compliant Landfills

The European Commission is taking Spain to Court for two breaches of environment legislation. The first concerns poor waste management, where numerous Spanish landfills are still operating in breach of EU landfill legislation.

The second case contains a planned rail link between Seville and Almeria, for which no adequate environmental impact assessment was carried out.

In an effort to urge Spain to rectify these matters, the Commission is taking Spain to the EU Court of Justice, on the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik.

The Landfill Directive puts in place standards for landfills to prevent adverse effects on human health, water, soil and air.

Under the Directive, operations at landfill sites that were in operation in 2001 should have ceased by 16 July 2009 unless they complied with EU standards designed to ensure that they operate safely.

According to the latest information available to the Commission, almost five years after the final deadline for closure, 28 non-compliant landfill sites in Spain have still not been closed, and three others still need to be brought up to the standards required.

In an effort to bring about the closures and upgrading, the Commission has resorted to action before the EU Court of Justice.

Under EU law, only safe and controlled landfill activities should be carried out in Europe. The Landfill Directive lays down standards to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste.

It aims to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects of landfilling of waste over the whole life-cycle of landfill sites.

Back in January this year, the Commission made the decision to take Bulgaria and Slovenia to the EU Court of Justice over numerous landfills that are operating in breach of EU waste and landfill legislation.

The Commission said that it is concerned that Bulgaria is failing to protect its citizens from the effects of bad waste management.

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