Claims by the Transport Secretary that the UK has been leading the way in pushing for better emissions testing for diesel vehicles have been challenged by environmental lawyers, ClientEarth.
It follows a shocking Department for Transport report which shows that all diesel vehicles tested by the governnment in the wake of the VW scandal failed to meet EU standards for nitrogen oxide pollution when driven on the roads.
The government described the report as “disappointing” and the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin claimed: “The UK has been leading in Europe in pushing for real world emissions tests which will address this problem.”
Alan Andrews, lawyer for ClientEarth, said: “It’s completely misleading for the Transport Secretary to suggest that the UK government has been leading the way on this.
“The government knew about this problem for years but did nothing to challenge the car industry while the country choked on illegal levels of air pollution. Worse, the government even voted for new EU rules which would allow new diesel cars to emit double the pollution limits. This is despite a Supreme Court order against them, won by ClientEarth almost exactly a year ago, ordering ministers to bring pollution within legal limits as soon as possible.”
In October last year, EU member states approved new rules which allow diesel vehicles to emit twice the current limit for nitrogen oxide in 2017 and 50 percent over the legal limit from 2020.
ClientEarth has already revealed that the UK government supported legal loopholes which allow diesel vehicles to emit double the current limit.
Alan Andrews added: “We need a national network of clean air zones with random testing of vehicles and consumer labelling based on real world, independent tests. This will help us get the dirtiest diesel vehicles off our streets. At the same time, the government needs to fight for clean air at EU level to close the loopholes in emissions testing.”
ClientEarth is taking the UK government back to court over its failure to deal adequately with breaches in EU air quality limits.