‘Arrogant’ UK Government response to air quality will face court challenge

Ministers will be taken back to the High Court early next year following publication of the government’s latest air quality plan today.

Defra’s proposals fall far short of the action necessary to comply with a Supreme Court ruling in April, according to environmental lawyers ClientEarth.

Ministers had until December 31st to come up with a final plan to deal with illegal levels of pollution across many parts of the UK.

ClientEarth has concluded today that it will make a legal challenge to force the Government to take faster action to achieve legal pollution limits.

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “These plans are an outrageous statement to the Supreme Court essentially stating that the government doesn’t intend to comply as soon as possible. It is an arrogant response that is simply not good enough.”

While clean air zones are now promised for six cities – others, such as Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool are not required to have zones.

ClientEarth air quality lawyer, Alan Andrews, said: “In April, the Supreme Court ordered the government to come up with a plan to achieve legal pollution limits as soon as possible. The Government’s latest plan for clean air zones doesn’t tackle all pollution from passenger cars – one of the biggest sources of poor air quality, and fails to take action in dozens of other cities where people are breathing illegal levels of pollution.

“The Government seem to think that the health of people in cities like Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol is less important than that of people in London. While London gets a clean air zone covering all vehicles, Birmingham gets a second class zone and Derby and Southampton third class, while other areas including Manchester and Liverpool are left out. We all have the same right to breathe clean air.”

The government’s new plan is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/improving-air-quality-in-cities

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