Published: Thu, February 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Government Plans To Tackle Air Pollution Are Unlawful, Court Rules

Government Plans To Tackle Air Pollution Are Unlawful, Court Rules

Mr Justice Garnham told the London court on Wednesday the approach to tackling pollution in 45 local authority areas was "not sufficient".

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth hauled the Departments for Transport and Environment, Food and Rural affairs before the High Court over unacceptably high levels of pollution across the United Kingdom, and the government's lack of action in tackling them.

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: "Welsh ministers have admitted in court that their inaction on air pollution was unlawful".

Mr Justice Garnham is expected to deliver a ruling on the government's 2017 air quality plan, after legal campaign group ClientEarth claimed that the government's proposals to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide emissions "fell far short of what is needed".

The judgement means the Welsh Government is under a legal obligation to draft a plan by the end of April and have a final plan in place by the 31 July.

Speaking outside court, ClientEarth lawyer Anna Heslop said: "The problem was supposed to be cleaned up over eight years ago, and yet successive governments have failed to do enough".

Hafodrynys Road near Crumlin is the UK's most polluted road outside of London. "Millions of people in the United Kingdom live with illegally high levels of air pollution, which results in 40,000 early deaths every year", she said in a statement.

"The government must now use every tool in the box to clean up our choking cities".

The judge also dismissed two of the three complaints brought by Client Earth, finding that the Government's modelling is compliant and that its approach to areas with major air quality problems is "sensible, rational and lawful".

"We will also end the sale of conventional new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040, and this year we will publish a comprehensive clean air strategy which will set out further steps to tackle air pollution".

A judge has ordered the government to take greater action to improve air quality in 33 towns and cities after ruling that its plans for reducing toxic gas from diesel engines are inadequate.

The government has already capitulated to pressure for more money to back the current plans, with Chancellor Philip Hammond announcing a £220m Clean Air Fund in the November budget, funded by changes to company auto tax and vehicle excise duty for diesel cars, to help local authorities deliver air quality measures.

A government spokesman said: "We have already delivered significant improvements in air quality since 2010 and we will continue to implement our £3.5 billion air quality plan".

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