New legal action launched over air pollution


Environmental campaigners have launched a new legal challenge against the Government over its ‘insulting’ plans to tackle illegal air pollution.

Last April environmental law firm ClientEarth won a judgement against the Government in the Supreme Court, which ordered ministers to draw up effective plans to tackle levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that breach the European Air Quality Directive.

In December, the Government announced plans for Clean Air Zones to be introduced in five cities by 2020, but it has stressed that they will not affect private cars.

The Mayor of London is named as an interested party

Earlier this month ClientEarth issued a new legal letter arguing that environment department Defra's latest plans fell ‘woefully short of what was ordered by the court’ and threatening fresh legal proceedings if it did not receive a satisfactory reply within 10 days.

Last week transport minister Andrew Jones told a conference: ‘I don't want to get into a system of sort of transport rationing.’

ClientEarth said it has now lodged papers at the High Court in London seeking judicial review and will serve papers on government lawyers.

Environment secretary, Lynne Truss, is named as the defendant, while Scottish and Welsh ministers, the mayor of London and the Department for Transport are also due to be served papers as interested parties in the case.

ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: ‘The Government’s plans were an insult to the tens of thousands of people being made sick and dying from air pollution and failed to consider strong measures to get the worst polluting diesel vehicles out of our town and city centres.

’As the government can’t be trusted to deal with toxic air pollution, we are asking the court to supervise it and make sure it is taking action.’

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.’


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