Image shoing a helicopter over the Queen Elizabeth II Tower

New UK government air quality strategy falls short

Today the government is releasing its Clean Air Strategy. We’ve long been calling for a comprehensive air pollution plan for everything from cars to cows but at first glance, there seems to be a transport-shaped hole in the government’s approach to the problem.

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “This strategy is well overdue, so we welcome the fact it has finally been released. We’ve been forced to take legal action several times to shock the government into taking action over illegal air pollution in this country.

“While the government’s focus on air quality from different sources is welcome, road transport is still the main source of illegal air pollution in our towns and cities. We need a national network of Clean Air Zones to take the most polluting vehicles out of the most polluted areas.

“We also want the government to commit to a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st Century. Ministers should enshrine people’s right to breathe clean air in UK law and drive greater ambition to protect their health.”

The Clean Air Strategy is being developed in response to the EU’s National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive, which sets legally binding emission reduction targets for five pollutants, including NOx and PM2.5.

After Brexit, the UK may no longer be held to strict air quality standards by the EU. That’s why we need a strong, independent watchdog that can ensure the government complies with environmental laws after Britain leaves the EU.

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Camilla Bundgaard