street light and big ben against gloomy sky

UK government spends £500,000 defending long-standing inaction on air quality

New data obtained through a Freedom of Information request estimates that the UK government has spent up to £500,000 in the courts trying to dodge its duty to tackle illegal and harmful levels of air pollution.

Responding to the new figures, ClientEarth chief executive James Thornton said: “It’s incredible that the UK government has used public money to try to avoid tackling a public health crisis. Air pollution in this country is not only illegal, it’s harming people’s health and cutting lives short.

“The government has been breaking pollution limits for eight years and is forecast to continue to do so for at least another ten. The fact we have had to keep going back to court to hold them to their duty to protect people is staggering.

“We need to see the government urgently introduce strong measures which tangibly bring illegal pollution down in our towns and cities, for the sake of people’s health.”

Recent reports suggest the UK government may be taken to the European Court of Justice over longstanding breaches EU air pollution law, which could result in hefty fines.

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