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Government to publish air quality plans within a week

Draft air quality plans, which could include anti-diesel measures for clean air zones, are to be published by the Government by 9 May after it confirmed it would not appeal last week’s High Court judgment.

smog - credit London Assembly

Draft air quality plans are to be published by 9 May. Image: London Assembly

The plans were previously due for publication by 24 April following a previous High Court ruling but following the announcement of the snap general election, Defra applied for a last-minute extension. However, last week saw the High Court reject the government bid.

In the latest move, No 10 has said it will not appeal the ruling, with some publications saying that the plans will be published this Friday (5 May).

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told media: “We have looked at the judgment from last week and we will not be appealing.

“The court deadline was 9 May and we will be meeting that deadline. We will publish at the earliest opportunity after local election purdah is over and before the deadline.”

James Thornton, CEO of environmental lawyers ClientEarth, said: “We’ll be analysing these plans and making sure they are up to scratch. We must see truly robust measures, including a national network of clean air zones to keep the dirtiest diesel vehicles away from pollution hotspots in our towns and cities.”

According to the Sunday Times, the plans will introduce a ‘toxin tax’ that will see drivers of diesel vehicles, including cars in some areas, charged £20 a day in 35 cities across England by 2019.

The plans are also expected to include a national diesel scrappage scheme, which could focus on the worst-polluted areas around the country and would be financed by the Treasury.

Earlier this spring, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced the launch of a ‘Toxicity Charge’ in central London from October and is also consulting on the early introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from April 2019 as well as its expansion across Greater London for heavy diesel vehicles in 2020, and up to the North and South Circular roads for cars and vans in 2021.

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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.