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Anniversary Prompts Call for New Clean Air Act

July 8, 2016
Environmental Protection

Sixty years ago this week, the Clean Air Act 1956 came into force as a direct response to the London smog’s earlier in the decade. With the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health estimating that poor air quality could be responsible for as many as 40,000 deaths annually, some experts are now calling for a new Clean Air Act to try to solve the problem.

James Thornton, Chief Executive of Client Earth who took a successful action against the government in the Supreme Court last year, is one of the leading figures behind the move. “Sadly today, air pollution causes tens of thousands of early deaths every year and leaves many more seriously ill,” he said. “Instead of making the same arguments against taking action that were made 60 years ago we need the government to wake up to our air pollution crisis. We need a new Clean Air Act to safeguard our legal protections and ensure our right to breathe clean air.”

Recommendations for inclusion in any new legislation include the adoption of revised air quality objectives based on World Health Organisation guidelines, clarity on the roles of national government and local authorities and a requirement for real time monitoring in all areas. Client Earth are set to continue their action against the Government when their challenge against what they term ‘illegal levels of air pollution’ is heard in the High Court on 18th and 19th October.