Government comes under fire for air quality plans
Following a consultation by Defra, Clean Air Zones will be introduced in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton by 2020.
However the plans will not limit car usage and will only see limits placed on diesel commercial vehicles including buses, taxis, coaches and lorries.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “Our Clean Air Zones are targeted on the largest vehicles, whilst not affecting car owners and minimising the impact on business
“We want to ensure people can continue to drive into city centres and by targeting action at the most polluting coaches, taxis, buses and lorries we will encourage the use of cleaner vehicles.”
Birmingham and Leeds will also discourage the most polluting diesel vans and implement other measures which may include park and ride schemes, signage, changes in road layouts and provision of infrastructure for alternative fuels.
However, the plans have been criticised by environmental lawyers at ClientEarth, which has been battling with the UK government over air quality.
ClientEarth’s air quality lawyer, Alan Andrews, said: 'In April, the Supreme Court ordered the government to come up with a plan to achieve legal pollution limits as soon as possible. The Government's latest plan for clean air zones doesn't tackle all pollution from passenger cars one of the biggest sources of poor air quality, and fails to take action in dozens of other cities where people are breathing illegal levels of pollution.”
He added: 'The Government seem to think that the health of people in cities like Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol is less important than that of people in London. While London gets a clean air zone covering all vehicles, Birmingham gets a second class zone and Derby and Southampton third class, while other areas including Manchester and Liverpool are left out. We all have the same right to breathe clean air.'
ClientEarth added that it will take the Government back to the High Court early next year to “force the Government to take faster action to achieve legal pollution limits”.