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ClientEarth challenges UK government’s air pollution consultation

ClientEarth is taking the UK government back to the High Court in a bid to drastically improve its draft plans to clean up the UK’s illegally high air pollution.

After carefully scrutinising the plans since they were published on May 5th, the environmental law group wrote to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ask for improvements. Defra refused, giving ClientEarth no option but to ask the court how best to fix the problems.

The draft plans were accompanied by a public consultation which ends just days after the general election on June 8th. But the consultation does not include measures which the government’s own technical data shows are the best way to bring down air pollution as soon as possible.

James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth said: “We have been looking at the fine detail of the draft Air Quality Plans published by the government. We want to respond to the government’s consultation, and want others to be able to as well.

“We have found some major flaws. The law requires the final plan to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the shortest time possible. These flaws seriously jeopardise that timetable.

“These are plans for more plans, what we need are plans for action.

“The government’s plans and consultation do not match what its own evidence says needs to happen. If the evidence shows that taking certain measures will be necessary to tackle the public health crisis of polluted air, then the plans and associated consultation needs to make that clear.

“This is essential so that people can have their say and we get the best possible final plans when they are due to be published, as ordered by the court, on July 31.”

ClientEarth has consistently called for incentives to move people away from diesel vehicles towards cleaner forms of transport. The environmental law group said today it was still vitally important for people to let the government know what they thought of the draft plans.

To that end, ClientEarth will launch an online consultation tool tomorrow to help people respond to the government’s current plan.

Thornton added: “We are challenging on two fronts because of the urgency of this public health crisis. We’re asking the High Court to consider the problems with the plans and consultation. That is now in the court’s hands. In the meantime, it is important for as many people as possible to tell Defra that the plans don’t make sense and won’t tackle illegal air quality in our towns and cities.”

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