A senior MP has described the Government’s attempts to tackle illegal levels of air pollution as 'shambolic' after ministers were once again told by the courts to rewrite their plans.
Last month environmental campaign group ClientEarth launched a new legal challenge over the Government’s latest national air quality plan, published in July last year.
ClientEarth representatives outside the High Court
On Wednesday (21 February), Mr Justice Garnham ruled that this plan was ‘unlawful.
According to ClientEarth, he said that the Government’s failure to require action from 45 local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution in their area was unlawful and ordered ministers to require local authorities to investigate and identify measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities as soon as possible.
Speaking outside the court, ClientEarth lawyer Anna Heslop said: 'For the third time in the space of three years, the courts have declared that the Government is failing in its obligation to clean up the air in our towns and cities.
'We are delighted that the court has today ordered the Government to urgently take further action to fix the dangerous air pollution in our towns and cities.
'The problem was supposed to be cleaned up over eight years ago, and yet successive governments have failed to do enough. The people who live in areas of the countries covered by this judgment deserve to be able breathe clean air and the government must now do all it can to make that happen quickly.'
Mary Creagh MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: 'Millions of people in the UK live with illegally high levels of air pollution, which results in 40,000 early deaths every year.
‘Ministers’ shambolic attempts to tackle this means this is the third time the courts have ordered the Government to come up with a new plan.
‘The Government must now use every tool in the box to clean up our choking cities.’
Transport Network has approached environment department Defra for comment.