ClientEarth demands urgent clarification on UK government’s air quality plans

ClientEarth has written to the UK Government asking for urgent answers over disturbing holes in court-ordered plans to clean up illegal levels of air pollution.

The letter, which gives ministers 14 days to respond, highlights major questions which the government’s plans leave unanswered.

The plans, which were released on 26 July, pass responsibility to 23 Local Councils in England to find a solution to the air pollution crisis, but offer little detail on how air quality will be improved in the rest of England.

In the letter, ClientEarth asks for immediate clarification about the guidance given to local authorities on how to evaluate the best ways of bringing air pollution down as soon as possible as well as how ministers will ensure that air quality limits are met across England.

The environmental law organisation also calls for clarity on how the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will assess plans from the 23 local authorities and how quickly this will be done.

ClientEarth lawyer Anna Heslop, said: “We were extremely disappointed with the plans when they came out. They pass the buck to local authorities and leave some majors questions about process and funding.

“We are worried that ministers may be running away from their responsibility to ensure people across the UK are not breathing illegal levels of air pollution every day. We hope that the government’s answers will finally show a resolve to urgently tackle the UK’s toxic air. Up to now, that has been sadly lacking.”

ClientEarth is also waiting for urgent clarification from the Scottish and Welsh governments as to their and DEFRA’s plans to clean up illegal levels of air pollution in the devolved nations.

The plans released by the government on 26 July were the result of ClientEarth’s second successful court case against ministers to clean up illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution in the UK. There are illegal levels of NO2 in 37 out of 43 zones in the UK.

In areas with illegal levels of NO2, the main culprit is diesel engines. ClientEarth has called for a national network of clean air zones, which would keep the most polluting vehicles away from the most polluted areas of our towns and cities.

This should be accompanied by a diesel scrappage scheme and other incentives to help people move to cleaner forms of transport.

Share this...
Share on Facebook! Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn! Email!

James Padolsey

Related articles

More from

  • Image shoing a helicopter over the Queen Elizabeth II Tower

    ClientEarth demands immediate UK action in Budget, after fresh diesel revelations

    Environmental lawyers ClientEarth are demanding urgent action to shift diesel vehicles off the UK’s roads as papers emerge showing ministers have known for decades that the fuel threatens people’s health – and yet made policy to encourage diesel vehicle uptake regardless.

  • Two women cycling

    ClientEarth goes to court to defend Brussels residents’ right to breathe clean air

    ClientEarth and five local residents have taken their battle to court today against the Brussels regional government for failing to address illegal levels of air pollution and inadequately monitoring toxic air in the city.

  • silhouette-coal-flues-sunset

    ClientEarth and WWF take Italy’s most polluting coal plant to court

    Italy’s dirtiest coal plant faces losing its permit as international lawyers launch legal action against its toxic pollution.

  • pink glow reflects bulgarian train station

    Unlawful coal plant Maritsa III challenged in Bulgaria’s Supreme Court

    Wave of legal action against Bulgarian coal continues as ClientEarth teams up with national lawyers to take on illegal pollution.

  • Follow us

    You can help

    Your support helps us use the law to protect your environment.