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11.11.2015: 1,4 Mio. RMB Strafe für illegale Landnahme und Müll-Dumping: Erstes Gerichtsverfahren von Umweltgruppen im Rahmen des neuen Umweltgesetzes erfolgreich (2015)

The first public interest case taken under China’s new environmental law has ultimately proved successful, providing a model for similar action elsewhere. Late last month a court in China’s south-eastern Fujian province ruled in favour of environmental groups that took a lawsuit against a quarry company for pollution near the city of Nanping. The new law aims to give the authorities more power to enforce anti-pollution measures and fine wrongdoers, and also make it easier for some environmental groups to take cases against polluters.
 
Although few environmental NGOs have been able to have cases heard, the new environmental law has shown that it’s possible for them to get favourable rulings from judges, said Wang Canfa, a professor at the China University of Politics and Law and founder of the Centre of Legal Assistance for Pollution Victims, a former NGO twinner of the Stiftung asienhaus NGO-Twinning program. Wang Canfa says the court ruling could set precedents for future cases.  The law requires NGOs bringing a case to have been registered for five years, but organisations often re-register due to changes in name or management. Waiving this technicality will allow many more groups to bring cases, legal experts say.
 
Ge Feng, director of the legal and policy department at Friends of Nature, expressed satisfaction with the result, particularly the size of the fines. “In the past, fines and awards (to plaintiffs) weren’t that high. This is important for cash-strapped NGOs.”  The compensation for the loss of environmental benefits was also a new idea, which the court backed. Ge thinks those bringing other cases in the future will gain valuable insight from the Fujian quarry case. Evidence gathered by local prosecutors for the 2014 trial was vital to Friends of Nature’s lawsuit.