Government warned of fresh legal action over air pollution
A growing number of local authorities are failing to meet air quality targets according to environmental law firm ClientEarth, which is threatening fresh legal action against the government.
Latest government figures show a total of 278 of the 391 local authorities (equating to 71%) in the UK now have Air Quality Management Areas – which have to be declared by local authorities when air quality objectives are not, or are unlikely to be, met. This compares to 258 in 2010.
In response, ClientEarth has revealed it’s written to the UK government warning that without action to address the holes in its latest air quality plans, ministers would face legal action for the third time.
ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: “These new figures show that this is a national problem that requires a national solution. The latest air quality plan simply passes the buck to local authorities who will have little option but to impose charges on diesel vehicles. It is high time that the government kept up its end of the bargain and helped ordinary people and small businesses make the shift away from diesel towards cleaner forms of transport.”
In its legal letter to the government, ClientEarth highlighted the fact that 45 local authorities are not being required to take action to achieve air quality standards, despite being forecast to breach air pollution limits for several years to come.
The letter also criticises the Government’s lack of progress on key national policies such as changes to the tax system to favour cleaner vehicles, introducing a targeted diesel scrappage scheme and setting up a ‘clean air fund’ to help local authorities tackle pollution.
Andrews added: “If the government continues to fail in its duty to ensure legal levels of air pollution, then we will be left with no choice but to go back to court.”