Green NGOs fear toothless EU liability rules

Strong polluter pays principle "must be at heart" of environmental liability legislation

Companies that damage the environment should not be exempt from financial liability simply because they operate within the terms of their environmental permits, a group of green NGOs insisted today. The groups were reacting to news first revealed by ENDS Europe DAILY that the European Commission's imminent proposal for an EU environmental liability directive is likely to contain just such a provision (EED 10/12/01).

"Having a driving licence does not mean that you are excused for causing an accident," said Miguel Naveso from BirdLife International, supported by Greenpeace, WWF and the European environmental bureau. The group is urging the Commission to ensure that the legislation it publishes in January includes full application of the polluter pays principle and does not allow for the so-called "compliance with permit" defence.

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