A High Court judge has granted environmental campaigners permission to take the Government back to court over its approach to illegal air pollution.
Environmental lawyers at ClientEarth can now pursue a judicial review against environment secretary Liz Truss.
ClientEarth is arguing that the Government’s plans to tackle levels of toxic nitrogen oxide that breach the European Air Quality Directive remain inadequate, despite a Supreme Court judgement last April ordering ministers to draw up effective plans.
ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: ‘The Government’s new plans to tackle air pollution are woefully inadequate and won’t achieve legal limits for years to come. The longer they are allowed to dither and delay, the more people will suffer from serious illness or an early death.
‘Today’s decision means we will be returning to court to demand that ministers respect our right to breathe clean air. The health evidence is mounting – and as we saw yesterday, MPs from across the political spectrum agree with us that the Government is not doing enough.’
Yesterday the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of MPs called on the Government to give all councils greater powers to tackle pollution, to reduce the estimated 40,000 to 50,000 early deaths every year resulting from pollution-related illnesses.
A Defra spokesperson said: ‘Our plans clearly set out how we will improve the UK’s air quality through a new programme of Clean Air Zones, which alongside national action and continued investment in clean technologies will create cleaner, healthier air for all. We cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings.’
Last month ClientEarth lodged papers at the court naming Ms Truss as defendant. Papers were also served on Scottish and Welsh ministers, the London mayor Boris Johnson and the Department for Transport as interested parties in the case.
It said the first hearing is likely to place during the summer.