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Government still failing on air pollution despite Supreme Court order

The majority of the UK is still in breach of European Union legislation some 18 months after the Supreme Court ordered ministers to tackle air pollution.

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The Defra figures reveal that 37 out of 43 zones were still in breach of pollution limits in 2016.

Figures submitted by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the EU Commission show that at the end of 2016, the UK still had the same number of zones with illegal air pollution as 2015 – in total, 37 out of 43 zones were in breach of pollution limits. And in some areas, air pollution has seen a slight increase over the past four years, for example in Bristol, Portsmouth and Teeside.

In response, James Thornton, CEO of environmental law firm ClientEarth, which led the successful legal action against the government over its air quality policies, said: “These are statistics the government would rather you didn’t see. They show how ministers are failing to protect people from air pollution which is blighting the lives of thousands of people across the country.”

The figures follows July’s publication of Defra’s second court-ordered air quality plan, which ClientEarth has said it believes is not strong enough to bring down air pollution as soon as possible.

Thornton added: “We need a national network of clean air zones to clean up the air as quickly as possible. Thousands of people bought diesel vehicles in good faith and have been sorely let down by car makers and the government. They should take responsibility and help people move to cleaner forms of transport.”For more of the latest industry news, click here.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.