Government threatened with more legal action over pollution


The Government is under threat of further court action over pollution levels after it emerged London breached its total annual emissions limit in the first week of 2016.

The Guardian reported that Putney High Street in West London has breached nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits - a toxic gas produced by diesel vehicles linked to thousands of deaths in London alone from serious health issues such as respiratory problems.

A location is only allowed to record over 200 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre of air 18 times a year – however Putney has broken the limit at least 19 times already.

Patience exhausted: ClientEarth to take Government back to court

It is though Oxford Street is also in breach of the limit after 2015 saw it go over the hourly limit 1,000 times.

In response lawyers for Client Earth, which won a Supreme Court case against the government last year that forced it to publish an action plan on how to tackle pollution, have threatened further legal action.

Alan Andrews of ClientEarth, said: ‘This is exactly why we are taking the Government back to court. Its failure to deal with illegal levels of air pollution, which causes thousands of early deaths in London every year, is a scandal.

'Our Supreme Court victory in 2015 forced the Government to come up with plans to get air pollution within legal limits as soon as possible. Those plans fall well short and Londoners face another decade of choking on dangerously polluted air if ministers refuse to take the bold steps needed to solve this deadly problem.

'In the coming months, we will take the Government back to court. Warm words and empty rhetoric won’t save lives.’

Under the Government’s plans major cities across the county are set to impose Clean Air Zones to help reduce pollution from surface transport by restricting the most polluting vehicles.

And an ultra Low Emissions Zone is also due to begin in 2020 in London to help tackle the problem.

However the capital and major cities including Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff and Edinburgh are still set to be in breach of NO2 limits for at least another five years, despite the new measures.

A spokeswoman for the environment department said: ‘Tackling air pollution is a priority for this Government and that is why last month we published plans setting out how we will improve the UK’s air quality through a new programme of Clean Air Zones and continued investment in clean technologies.’

A spokesman for the mayor of London’s office said: ‘The mayor is leading the most ambitious and comprehensive package of measures in the world to improve London’s air quality. His recent £10m bus retrofit programme has led to a sustained reduction in NO2 concentrations on Putney High Street.’


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