Final warning gives government 10 days to act on air pollution

ClientEarth has sent a final legal warning to the UK government which gives the Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, 10 days to act on air pollution or face action in the High Court.

ClientEarth, which won a Supreme Court judgment on air pollution against the government last April, issued the legal letter because Defra’s plans to tackle illegal levels of pollution fall woefully short of what was ordered by the court.

The health impact of outdoor air pollution is equivalent to 40,000 deaths each year. The government’s current plans, which it was ordered to produce by the Supreme Court after losing to ClientEarth last year, do not envisage the UK to have legal levels of air pollution until 2025.

Air pollution final warning – government is ducking duty to protect people’s health

ClientEarth CEO, James Thornton, said: “Despite an order from the UK’s highest court, despite tens of thousands of premature deaths in this country every year and despite clear evidence to show that air pollution has a terrible effect on the health of vulnerable groups like children, the government has consistently ducked its responsibility to ensure our right to clean air.

“We have had to issue this legal warning to the government because of its failure to produce a plan that would bring air pollution down as soon as possible.”

ClientEarth has asked the government to produce new plans with a list of measures that will bring air pollution within legal limits in the shortest time possible and put these plans out to public consultation.

If ClientEarth does not receive a satisfactory reply within 10 days, it will launch legal proceedings in the High Court.

This post was updated on 21 December 2016 to better reflect research into the health impacts of air pollution. Air pollution and your health – what are the facts?

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Vera Kratochvil

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