a Kraków district court sentenced a Polish citizen to one month in prison for burning coal and wood in his central heating stove, a violation of the city’s new anti-smog laws. Although the sentence has since been reduced to a fine and community service, the case is adding controversy to Kraków’s government to forbid the burning of wood and coal in September.
After the ruling, the unidentified man will carry out 20 hours of supervised and unpaid community service.
The sentenced man was originally accused of burning wood and coal in his central heating stove in October. His use of wood and coal was discovered after air quality tests conducted by Kraków municipal police.
Since Sep. 1, 2019, when the new anti-smog laws were passed in Kraków, only gas fuels are permitted to be used in heating installations, such as methane, natural gas or light heating oil.
People who ignore the new regulations can be reprimanded or punished with a fine ranging from €4 to €1,164, but each case will be examined individually. Some cases may be referred for criminal prosecution depending on the circumstances.
The new anti-smog laws introduced a city-wide ban on burning coal, wood and other solid fuels in all fireplaces, stoves and boilers.
The ban not only applies to household stoves, but also to heavy, stationary grills (excluding seasonal grills and spits). The regulations have also affected restaurants that rely on materials like wood and coal to cook with.
Officials have struggled to control air pollution in Kraków, which features thousands of older heating hearths. Kraków escaped much of the destruction of World War ll, leaving the city with an older housing stock that relies on wood- and coal-fired hearths for heating.
Many of Kraków’s poorest households rely on coal and wood for fuel in the winter, meaning the law will have a disproporionate impact on these citizens.
To enforce the new law, police are reportedly using drones and heat sensors to find suspects that violate the ban on illegal burning.