The UK Government has lost its third court case on tackling air pollution when a High Court judge today ruled its current plans as “seriously flawed” and “unlawful”.
Mr Justice Garnham said the government had not done enough to require 45 local authorities in the UK to meet legal limits to reduce air pollution in their areas.
“The environment secretary must ensure that, in each of the 45 areas, steps are taken to achieve compliance as soon as possible, by the quickest route possible and by a means that makes that outcome likely”, he said.
It is expected these areas won’t meet their legal requirements to prevent toxic air pollutants until 2021.
The case was the third win in a row from legal activists ClientEarth, which have been doggedly pursuing the government for years to address the issue. Climate Action reported on the initial proceedings of the case last month, which covers authorities in both England and Wales.
Speaking outside of the court, ClientEarth lawyer Anna Heslop said: “For the third time in the space of three years, the courts have declared that the government is failing in its obligation to clean up the air in our towns and cities.
“We are delighted that the court has today ordered the government to urgently take further action to fix the dangerous air pollution in our towns and cities.
“The problem was supposed to be cleaned up over eight years ago, and yet successive governments have failed to do enough”.
In reaction to the verdict Jenny Bates, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “We’re seeing too little, too late from the government, and as a result people across the country will continue suffering unnecessarily. Levels of air pollution are illegally high in areas right across the country and air pollution is responsible for tens of thousands of early deaths a year in the UK".
Today’s result also means that Welsh Ministers will also have to produce a plan to comprehensive plan to combat air pollution by the end of July.
Photo: Bruno Abatti