Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-30 By Xie Wenting
A court in East China's Fujian Province announced on Thursday that two environmental NGOs won their suit against four people who damaged the local environment, marking the first public interest environmental litigation filed by NGOs in China after the enactment of a new environmental protection law this year.
Experts say winning the lawsuit can set a positive example for similar cases in the future.
The Nanping Intermediate People's Court ruled in a public hearing that the NGO plaintiffs, Friends of Nature and Fujian Green Home, won the case against four defendants who ran an unlicensed quarry in Nanping city, which damaged vegetation on a hillside starting in 2008.
The four people were ordered to restore the damaged 1.89-hectare of land, plant trees there over the next three years and pay 1.27 million yuan ($200,000) compensation plus about 165,000 yuan for the cost of litigation, according to a press release sent by Friends of Nature.
"We are satisfied with the ruling. It sets a positive example for the future public interest environmental litigation," Ge Feng, director of the legal and policy advocacy department at Friends of Nature, told the Global Times.
The new environmental protection law, which took into effect on January 1, stipulated that any NGO which has been active in environmental protection for at least five years has standing to sue polluters. According to a previous Global Times report, more than 700 NGOs in China are eligible.
"The high cost of litigation poses a challenge for NGOs to sue pollutants. In this case, the defendants were ordered to pay this fee, which makes our work easier," Ge said.
Bai Yunwen, director of the Beijing-based environmental NGO Greenovation Hub, told the Global Times that this case is significant and the verdict has asserted NGOs, standing as plaintiffs, in public interest environmental litigation and will encourage other environment NGOs to participate in litigation.