In 2007, the Slovak Republic has transposed into its legislation the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council 2004/35/EC on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage through the Act 359/2007 Coll. on the prevention and remedying of environmental damage and on amendments and supplements to certain laws as amended (hereinafter the "Act").
For the first time in the European Union and in the Slovak Republic the new "polluter pays" principle applies aimed at reduction of environmental contamination and halting the loss of biodiversity.
Legal regulations of the Slovak Republic
Many other legal regulations are connected with the issue of environmental damage, the key once include: Act 364/2004 Coll. on water, Act 223/2001 Coll. on waste, Act 543/2002 Coll. on nature and landscape protection, and Act 355/2007 Coll. on the protection, support and development of public health.
The Act establishes a comprehensive regime of liability for damage caused to the environment by activities of operators. The basic obligations of an operator include prevention of environmental damage and imminent threat of environmental damage. The operator is responsible for assessing environmental damage as well as for its remedying.
The Slovak Republic has decided to introduce a mandatory framework of financial coverage of environmental damage. An operator, in carrying out occupational activities itemized in the Act (section 1, sub-section 2), is obliged to ensure financial coverage of his liability for environmental damage, including the costs of remedial action and remedial measures to eliminate environmental damage. The amount of financial coverage must commensurate with the projected costs of remedial action, including risk analysis. The 2013 amendment to the Act (Act 39/2013 Coll.) specifies accepted forms of financial coverage, which include an insurance contract or other contractual arrangements, for example a bank guarantee or an earmarked account. The provision on compulsory financial coverage took effect on 1 July 2012.
Participation of persons concerned is regulated by law for eligible persons who are owners, managers, tenants of real estate, non-governmental organizations and relevant authorities with an interest in decision-making on environmental damage. Participation of persons concerned is justified if the damage affects their rights. The form of participation of eligible persons includes the submission of a Notification against the responsible operator, who caused the damage. The competent authority is obliged to examine the Notification and decide the case of environmental damage or threat thereof. Only on the basis of a decision confirming the damage, the proceedings to impose obligations on operators to take and carry out preventive or remedial measures will be initiated.
The public may file an Incentive only in selected cases of very serious environmental pollution and environmental damage to water, soil, species and habitats of Natura 2000. The Incentive Form (on-line, http://geo.enviroportal.sk/pnes/default_en.aspx) is used to report such cases caused by operators when performing selected authorised activities (section 1, sub-section 2), subject to law. The Incentive Form is also used to report cases of serious damage to Natura 2000 - a threat to favorable status of species and habitats when performing any other occupational activity, but only due to the conduct of the operator, i.e. by law violation.