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UK government faces Supreme Court over air pollution



Today the UK government will learn whether it will have to create a new air quality plan as the EU Supreme Court will hand down its final judgement.

The UK is breaching EU air quality rules for nitrogen dioxide. Under current plans three areas –  Greater London, West Midlands and urban areas in West Yorkshire – would not meet legal limits until 2030, two decades after the original EU deadline.

ClientEarth brought the original case forward four years ago, the organisation wants the Supreme Court to force the UK government to produce a new air quality plan within three months. However, the government department Defra has said it is already working on a new air quality plan, which it expects to be published by the end of the year.

Alan Andrews, ClientEarth lawyer, said, “Scientists estimate that every year at least 29,000 people die early in the UK as a result of air pollution.”

He added, “The Supreme Court heard that government plans won’t achieve compliance with legal limits until after 2030. How soon after 2030, isn’t clear. We are hopeful that after our five year legal fight, the judges will uphold the right to breathe clean air.

“Every year of dither and delay by Government just means thousands more people will die or be made seriously ill from heart attacks, asthma attacks, strokes and cancer. It’s unacceptable and we need action now.”

Photo: Simon Rogers via Freeimages

Further reading:

Study: air pollution affects heart beat

EU air pollution and recycling laws could be scrapped

Study: climate change will worsen air pollution

Warmer weather leads to rise in air pollution

MIT study links climate change, air pollution and decreasing food supplies

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