Language of document :

Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber) of 27 January 2022 (request for a preliminary ruling from the Augstākā tiesa (Senāts) – Latvia) – ‘Sātiņi-S’ SIA

(Case C-234/20) 1

(Reference for a preliminary ruling – European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) – Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 – Support for rural development – Article 30(6)(a) – Natura 2000 payments – Compensation for income foregone in agricultural and forest areas – Peat bogs – Prohibition of establishing plantations of cranberries – No compensation for damage – Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – Article 17 – Right to property)

Language of the case: Latvian

Referring court

Augstākā tiesa (Senāts)

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicant: ‘Sātiņi-S’ SIA

Intervening party: Lauku atbalsta dienests

Operative part of the judgment

Article 30(6)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 must be interpreted as meaning that it does not exclude, in principle, peat bogs from Natura 2000 payments, in so far as those peat bogs are situated in Natura 2000 areas designated pursuant to Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora and to Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds, and fall within the concept of ‘agricultural area’ or ‘forest’, within the meaning of, respectively, points (f) and (r) of Article 2(1) or of Article 2(2) of Regulation No 1305/2013, which may thus be eligible for the payments referred to in Article 30(1) of that regulation as ‘Natura 2000 agricultural and forest areas’ within the meaning of Article 30(6)(a) thereof;

Article 30(6)(a) of Regulation No 1305/2013 must be interpreted as allowing a Member State to exclude from Natura 2000 payments, first, ‘Natura 2000 agricultural areas’ within the meaning of that provision, including, in that case, peat bogs which come within such areas and, second, and in accordance with Article 2(2) of Regulation No 1305/2013, peat bogs situated in Natura 2000 areas, which, in principle, come within the concept of ‘forest’, within the meaning of Article 2(1)(r) of that regulation, and thus of ‘Natura 2000 forest areas’ within the meaning of Article 30(6)(a) of that regulation. The latter provision must also be interpreted as permitting a Member State to limit such payments for Natura 2000 forest areas, including, where appropriate, peat bogs, to situations where the designation of those areas as ‘Natura 2000 areas’ has the effect of adversely affecting the exercise of a specific type of economic activity, in particular forestry;

Article 30 of Regulation No 1305/2013, read in conjunction with Article 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, must be interpreted as meaning that a Natura 2000 payment must not be granted to the owner of a peat bog that comes within the Natura 2000 network on the basis that a restriction has been made to an economic activity which may be carried out on such a peat bog, in particular the prohibition on planting cranberries, where, at the time when he or she acquired the immovable property concerned, the owner was aware of such restriction.

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1 OJ C 262, 10.8.2020.