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Media reaction: 13 January 2022
News reports are emerging suggesting that plans to resolve illegally toxic air pollution in Greater Manchester will be put on ice.
Katie Nield, lawyer at environmental law charity ClientEarth, said: “Greater Manchester still clocks illegal and harmful levels of air pollution, with more than 1,200 premature deaths a year because of dirty air in the region and many more people suffering on a daily basis.
“Clean Air Zones are proven to be the most effective way to reduce illegal pollution quickly. Pausing plans for a CAZ in the region would be a serious blow for people’s health, especially for those on low incomes who suffer disproportionately from the impacts of toxic air.
“It’s a tough time for many UK households and businesses. Rather than stalling on action to protect people’s health and reduce the burden on the NHS, national and local leaders should be focusing on quickly rolling out the help and support that people and businesses need to move to cleaner forms of transport.
“Cleaning the air is a moral obligation, which should be enough of a motivation for the region’s leaders. However, there is also a legal obligation – in place to protect people’s health. If ministers approve this delay, they risk breaching that obligation and we will not hesitate to act to stop that happening.”
ClientEarth won three court cases against the UK Government regarding illegal levels of air pollution between 2011 and 2018. Following these court wins, ministers have ordered over 60 local authorities to come up with proposals to tackle the illegal levels of pollution in their areas. Many of those with the biggest problems – like Greater Manchester – have put CAZs at the core of these plans.
CAZs are already up and running in Birmingham, Bath and Portsmouth as a result and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London was recently expanded to cover a larger area of the capital. Unlike the CAZ in Birmingham and the ULEZ in London, the Greater Manchester CAZ would not affect private cars.
ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.