Climate Action

UK Government taken to court again over air pollution levels

The UK and Welsh Governments are being taken to court today for a third time over violations to legal levels of air pollution.

  • 25 January 2018
  • Websolutions

The UK and Welsh Governments are being taken to court today for a third time over violations to legal levels of air pollution.

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have brought the case due to the government’s “continued failure to protect people’s health against the harmful effects of air pollution”, according to a statement.

Despite winning the previous two cases, the group of activist lawyers have brought the judicial review due to perceived inadequacies in the government’s response to meeting its legal requirements. ClientEarth has also named Welsh Ministers in the case as a result of the devolved government’s similar failure to produce an adequate plan.

ClientEarth’s CEO James Thornton said: “The government’s latest plan is flawed. Even now, eight years after the original deadline for compliance, 37 out of 43 zones across the UK remain in breach of legal air pollution limits”.

Air pollution is a significant contributor to cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma. It is also one of the causes of cancer. A 2017 report by the Royal College of Physicians estimated levels of air pollution are linked to 40,000 premature deaths every year in the UK.

Mr. Thornton added: “Action on air pollution cannot wait and cannot be fudged. We will continue to hold the government to account until it meets its legal obligations and its duty to protect UK children’s health.”

Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates accused the government of “dragging its feet” on the issue, arguing that last year’s Air Quality Plan for Nitrogen Dioxide “proposes too little, too late and as a result people across the UK would continue suffering unnecessarily”

Instead, she emphasised the need to “invest in a properly funded national network of Clean Air Zones, ensure London’s planned Ultra-Low Emissions Zone is expanded, and improve public transport in order to fix the quality of the air we breathe across the UK as soon as possible”.

 

Image Credit: Brina Blum