view over Shard and London skyline

ClientEarth back in court against UK government over illegal air pollution

Update from day one of the hearing: Read material from our skeleton argument.

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth bring the UK government back to the High Court tomorrow for failing to deal with illegal levels of air pollution.

It’s ClientEarth’s second battle in as many years over the UK Environment Secretary’s failure to tackle the national air pollution crisis.

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “Defra’s latest figures estimate there are 40,000 early deaths across the UK every year because of air pollution. The government is acting unlawfully by refusing to turn this situation around. It is failing morally and it is failing legally to uphold our right to breathe clean air.

“The government must come up with far bolder measures, ready to face this issue head-on.

“Air quality in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis.”

ClientEarth won its case in 2015 in the Supreme Court, which ruled that the UK government must come up with plans to combat the crisis and bring pollution down to legal levels “as soon as possible”.

But the plans adopted in December last year outlined vague proposals that wouldn’t have secured compliance until at least 2025 and even this relied on hugely overoptimistic assumptions about emissions from diesel vehicles.

The original deadline for compliance was 2010.

ClientEarth has launched a wave of clean air cases around Europe in recent weeks, including Brno and Prague in the Czech Republic, and Brussels in Belgium. It has already won cases in Poland and Germany.

The UK case will be heard on the 18 and 19 October, with the verdict to come in the weeks afterwards.

Update from day one of the hearing: Read material from our skeleton argument.

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Daniel Chapman / Stirling Ackroyd