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Zdiby and Mělník weren't afraid of Norway Grants

Sometimes there are various prejudices around subsidies, fear of a heavy administrative burden, pre-financing and other bureaucratic scruples. However, Mělník and Zdiby were not afraid of this and thanks to the support of the Norway Grants they planted trees for CZK 29 million in a record time of 10 months.

It all started in 2022 with a collaboration of university, municipalities, for-profit and non-profit organisations that came together to measure air quality around the D8 motorway. The measurements took place in 14 locations along the TENT-T transport network in Mělník, Zdiby and Ústí nad Labem as part of the TENT AIR project. The Norwegian company Norsk Energi was also involved in the cooperation, and based on the measured data they created an air pollution distribution model. The data was also analysed by the University of Mining and Metallurgy in Ostrava, which led to the creation of action plans to improve air cleanliness in all 3 municipalities.

The results of the action plans were not long in coming. The active involvement of Mělník and Zdibi in the project brought both of them a unique opportunity to participate in follow-up calls for Norwegian funds focused on green measures and sensory measurements.

"When the opportunity to submit a follow-up project to our action plan from the Norway Grants until 5 January 2023 came up, it was already November. We sacrificed the Christmas holidays and the New Year celebrations to write the application in collaboration with landscape architects, but when I walk past the already planted greenery today, I know it was worth it. Once the greenery becomes more involved and grows, it will not only beautify the village, but will also contribute positively to the absorption of pollutants, capture dust particles and promote more favourable climatic conditions in the village," says the Mayor of Zdiby, JUDr. Eva Slavíková.

The municipalities applied for the planting of the trees as part of the Stavanger Call for Proposals announced by the State Environmental Fund. In the end, a total of CZK 49 million was distributed in the call. Of this, the whole 29 million was awarded to Mělník and Zdiby under 3 projects.

Mělník, Zdiby and municipalities along a 40 km stretch of the D8 motorway also used additional funds for the installation and operation of sensors measuring air quality in selected towns and municipalities. These were selected on the basis of the aforementioned previous measurements carried out by the TENT AIR project, which identified them as the areas with the highest pollution from local heating plants.

"However, I also see one of the main benefits of the projects as the fact that it was possible to bring together the university private sector, the non-profit sector and individual municipalities in a very active and fast cooperation. It is not so often that scientific research is directly applied in concrete results on the territory of cities and creates effective cooperation," says Jana Panáčková Feixová, administrator of the project part.

Both Mělník and Zdiby discussed specific levels of benzoapyrene and its connection to local heating. It turns out that it will be necessary to convince citizens to use the best possible combustion equipment and to burn the right quality raw materials.

"Although the results of the clean air measurements are currently optimistic, we can expect the situation to change in 2030 when immission limits will be tightened. Not only are the demands on people's health and living conditions increasing, but the tightening of the limits by half in 2030 means that we will have to implement a number of new measures at pollution sources," says Mgr. Jiří Bílek PhD. from the University of Mining and Metallurgy in Ostrava.

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