Important court victory for Zhukiv Island

On 25 November 2009 the Kyiv Economic Court found unlawful Item 1 of the Kyiv City Council’s Decision No. 162/1996 from 22 August 2007 “On the creation of a landscape reserve area “Zhukiv Island”. This decision had illegally decreased by 9 times the area of the reserve, from 1794 to 196 hectares.

The landscape reserve Zhukiv Island was created in 1999 in the Holosiyivsky District of Kyiv on the high-water bed of the Dnipro River. The reserve area encompasses the entire preserved part of the nature area “Koncha-Zaspa” which in the past was the first nature reserve of the Soviet Union. The lakes Koncha and Zaspa are on the territory of the reserve.

The Kyiv Council’s 2007 decision was taken in flagrant violation of legislation, namely:
– it ran counter to the General Plan for Kyiv up till 2020 and the Programme for the Development of Kyiv’s Green Zone up till 2010.
– It was taken without being agreed with the Kyiv State Department for the Protection of the Environment which is the only State body with the jurisdiction to agree issues pertaining to natural reserve areas;
– It was taken in spite of protests from the Permanent Commission of the Kyiv City Council on Environmental Policy and protests from the Kyiv Prosecutor’s Office;
– No scientific justification was provided for why the reserve needed to be reduced;
– It was taken for the sole purpose of depriving the territory of the reserve of nature protection status and handing it over for construction.

The Kyiv City Council’s Decision was appealed in court in December 2007. This was the first court case over the last several years when the Prosecutor’s Office has lodged a complaint over land decisions of the Kyiv City Council. It is also the first time that the Prosecutor’s Office has initiated such a complaint on the appeal of civic organizations. The National Ecological Centre of Ukraine [NECU] supported the Prosecutor’s Office from the outset. On 19 May 2009, a Supreme Court panel of judges allowed NECU’s cassation appeal and returned the case for a new examination to the Kyiv Economic Court. This court recognized its mistake of two years ago and finally acknowledged the Council’s Decision to have been unlawful.

Over the two years that the court case took, the Kyiv City Council handed out several land sites from the territory of the reserve, and even began felling trees on some of them. Now, when Decision No. 162/1996 has been revoked, all land allocations automatically cease to be lawful. The battle is thus not over, however the main victory has been won. It is important to add that at the present time, the Ministry for Environmental Protection is considering giving the Zhukiv Island reserve the status of reserve area of State significance.

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