Krakow: image - wikipedia
Pressure groups, and more recently the city of Krakow itself, had been pushing for the ban over the last two years, but the project had stalled at the regional level until Monday's breakthrough.
“This resolution has been taken for Krakow, its people and tourists visiting the city,” commented Deputy Marshal of the assembly Wojciech Kozak.
A study published last month by the European Environment Agency found that Krakow has the third most polluted air of 383 cities across Europe.
“Hundreds of people are dying each year because of air pollution,” Kozak said.
The ban mainly concerns the traditional domestic stoves that have endured in tens of thousands of townhouses across the city.
However, at the last hour, the assembly permitted that wood may still be burnt in specially installed fireplaces.
Kozak claimed that this did not pose a threat, as such domestic fireplaces are often treated more as “a decorative element in a living room,” and that only about 12,000 of these exist in Krakow, of which about 5000 are used regularly.
The city of Krakow has been co-funding a programme that allows residents to exchange stoves for more eco-friendly heating systems in recent years.
There will now be a transitional period, allowing for all the remaining stoves to be exchanged, with the ban coming into full force as of 1 September 2018.
“We need to do this, so that our children don't accuse us of not lifting a finger in this matter,” commented Mayor of Krakow Jacek Majchrowski.
About 50 percent Krakow's winter air pollution comes from domestic stoves, while 30 percent is from traffic, and about 20 percent from power plants.
Jakub Jedrak, a member of NGO the Krakow Smog Alarm (Krakowski Alarm Smogowy) has welcomed yesterday's vote, and has indicated that his group may tackle traffic pollution in Krakow next. (nh)