No 10 says ministers will meet court deadline on air quality plan


The Government will not appeal against last week’s court ruling requiring it to bring forward new proposals to tackle air pollution before the general election.

Ministers will now publish a draft air quality plan by a revised deadline of 9 May, which is after this week’s local government elections, Number 10 confirmed.

James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth

Following a court ruling in November that declared the Government’s existing air quality plan to be so inadequate as to be illegal, ministers were due to publish a new draft plan by Monday last week (24 April) with a final plan due by the end of July.

However ministers wrote to the High Court to request a delay until 30 June, on the grounds that purdah rules prevented them publishing the plan during the general election campaign.

At a court hearing last week Mr Justice Garnham rejected that request and refused ministers permission to appeal, although they could still have approached the Appeal Court directly.

James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth, which brought the original case, said: ‘We’re delighted the Government has decided to stop dithering and delaying and look forward to seeing its air quality plans after the local elections.

‘We’ll be analysing these plans and making sure they are up to scratch. We must see truly robust measures, including a national network of clean air zones to keep the dirtiest diesel vehicles away from pollution hotspots in our towns and cities.’

A new air quality plan could strengthen measures to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel vehicles, such as increasing the number of towns or cities required to have clean air zones and possibly a diesel scrappage scheme.

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