New London mayor Sadiq Khan has backed environmental group ClientEarth in their High Court challenge to the Government’s plans to tackle toxic pollution.
Mr Khan, who is named as an ‘interested party’ in the case, used a formal submission to the court to make a call for extra funding from government and powers to support new air quality measures such as a diesel scrappage scheme.
Mr Khan campaigning on a London Bus
In his submission, Mr Khan, explained that, although he had initially contested ClientEarth’s case, ‘he is supportive of the claim to the extent that in his view there are measures going beyond those in the current Air Quality Plan (AQP) which could, and should, be adopted in London’.
He wrote that these measures ‘could potentially bring forward the date by which compliance with the limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) under the Air Quality Directive 2008/ 50/ EC (“the Directive”) is achieved in London’.
Environmental lawyers ClientEarth are bringing new judicial review proceedings, claiming that the Government’s national Air Quality Plan, which ministers were required to draw up following a previous court case last year, is inadequate.
Mr Khan pointed out that his position differs from his predecessor, Boris Johnson, in that earlier this month he proposed a package of further measures to tackle air pollution in the capital.
These included extending the forthcoming Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and charging the most polluting vehicles more to enter the city centre. In his submission, Mr Khan wrote that the success of measures to tackle air pollution ‘would be dependent upon financial and other support from central government’.
He said: ‘This means financial funding, the provision of additional powers such as in respect of the delegation of Vehicle Excise Duty in London to the Mayor and enforcement of standards relating to non-road mobile construction machinery, and also national measures such as a scrappage scheme for diesel vehicles and a national certification scheme for retrofitting vehicles to the Euro VI standard’.
ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: ‘London’s mayor agrees with us that more could and should be done to bring illegal levels of air pollution under control as soon as possible.
‘He can help deliver a bigger and better ultra low emission zone for London, but we also need national measures that will benefit all those living across the UK who are being made sick and dying early because of air pollution.’
Labour’s London Assembly environment spokesperson, Leonie Cooper, said: 'Instead of spending money on expensive lawyers, the Government should urgently implement a diesel scrappage scheme and work closely with councils to effectively tackle air pollution effectively.'