Government taken to Supreme Court Over Illegally High Air Pollution Levels
Author: Lima Curtis
Published: Thursday, 07 March 2013
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THE GOVERNMENT could be forced to take dramatic action to cut UK air pollution, after a landmark hearing at the Supreme Court this week.
The case has been brought against the government by ClientEarth, a group of activist lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet.
They say the air pollution levels in the UK are breaking EU air quality laws, with cities all over England and Wales found to have ‘high’ levels of toxic pollution, this week alone.
Some streets and roads in London have triple the legal limit of pollutant gases.
Poor air quality is one of the most serious public health risks in the UK today and air pollution is estimated to cause 29,000 premature deaths each year in the UK at an average loss of life of 11.5 years.
Despite the a clean air deadline of January 1 2010, current plans for 16 regions and cities (including Manchester, Birmingham, and Glasgow) will not achieve legal limits for nitrogen dioxide until 2020, and in the case of London, 2025.
James Thornton, ClientEarth CEO, said: “For too long the Government has got away with failing to tackle this public health crisis. Instead it is lobbying in Brussels to try to weaken standards and fighting tooth and nail in court to avoid its legal obligations.
“Where the Government fails to fulfil its responsibilities to its citizens, we have the right to go before our national courts and demand that action is taken. They need to face up to their responsibilities and produce a credible plan to clean up the dirty diesel vehicles which are choking our towns and cities.”
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is a gas caused by road traffic and other combustion processes. NO2 is harmful to health and associated with respiratory symptoms, inflammation of the lung lining and susceptibility to bronchitis.
Levels of NO2 on some of London’s busiest roads, such as Brixton Road and Putney High Street, are currently more than triple legal limits.
A spokesperson for the EcoExperts said: "A lot of this pollution comes from traffic, but another way to cut high levels of pollution is to invest in renewable energy rather than burning coal.
"We would love to see the UK air pollution levels drop and we believe renewable energy is a key part of making this happen."