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High Court orders UK air pollution hearing

The High Court has ordered a hearing into the government’s application to delay publication of a crucial clean air plan for the UK.

The government was ordered by the court last November to produce an Air Quality Plan to tackle illegal pollution levels, by 4pm yesterday (Monday).  But on Friday after the court closed, and less than one working day before the judge-imposed deadline, government lawyers applied to defer publication citing “pre-election proprietary rules”.

ClientEarth’s lawyers will attend the hearing, which has been listed by the court for Thursday at 10.30am. The court has set aside two and a half hours.

James Thornton, CEO of non-profit environmental lawyers ClientEarth, said: “Thursday’s hearing is at the court’s direction because the UK government has asked for an extension.

“We are preparing our response to the government’s application. This is a public health issue and not a political issue. Urgent action is required to protect people’s health from the illegal and poisonous air that we are forced to breathe in the UK.

“This is a matter for the court to decide once the government has made its arguments because it is the government which has not met, and instead seeks to extend the court’s deadline for the clean air plan, to clean up our air.”

The government is currently failing to comply with pollution laws. A total of 37 out of 43 regions of the UK are in breach of legal limits for nitrogen dioxide.

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David Holt

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