Government Faces Fresh Challenge Over Poor Air Quality
The government has been warned that unless it takes immediate steps to tackle air pollution, it will face further legal action. Environmental law firm, Climate Earth have issued the ultimatum in a letter to environment secretary Liz Truss, giving her 10 days to respond.
In April 2015, Supreme Court action by Client Earth resulted in the government being forced to produce an action plan to deal with high nitrogen dioxide levels. Alan Andrews, from Client Earth, told the BBC that ministers only have themselves to blame for not acting sooner.
“Throughout our five-year legal battle the government have claimed they couldn’t achieve legal limits because of the problems with the EU standards for diesel vehicles not delivering pollution reductions under normal driving conditions – but they failed to investigate why,” he said. “Then they lobbied the EU to water down new regulations which will require new diesel cars to meet emissions limits on the road. As a consequence, new diesel cars will be able to emit double the emission limit until 2021.”
If the government fails to produce new measures to deal with the problem, the pressure group will ask the High Court to compel ministers to submit improved plans. Recent figures from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have revealed that an estimated 40,000 people die prematurely every year from the effects of poor air quality.