Government loses bid to delay air pollution plan until after General Election

30 April, 2017, 01:09 | Author: Evan Mason
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Contentious plans to tackle Britain's dangerously toxic air must be published before the General Election, the High Court ruled yesterday.

It ordered the draft plans to be published on May 9, five days after the local elections, but before the general election on June 8.

These limits were introduced by European Union law in 1999 and were to have been achieved by 2010.

"Government must now deliver ambitious plans to clean up the air we breathe".

The court's decision is the latest development in a long-running legal action brought against the Government by a group of environmental lawyers, ClientEarth.

He added: "The continued failure of the government to publish constitutes a significant threat to public health". The election formed the basis of the government's court defense, arguing that it was not obliged to publish political or policy documents in the time between parliaments. We can not afford more dither and delay from the government.

Hackney law firm ClientEarth has won another legal battle with the government after the High Court yesterday rejected a bid by ministers to postpone publication of their air pollution strategy.

According to NHS estimates, poor air quality is responsible for 40,000 premature deaths across the country every year and the situation has, according to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee become a "public health emergency". The aim of the report was to study the potential impacts of air pollution on human health and the natural environment.

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Traffic jam

The draft plan is expected to include wide-ranging proposals to tackle air pollution in cities across the United Kingdom, including support for clean vehicles and new measures to impose a charge on drivers of the most polluting diesel vehicles if they enter urban centres.

It argued that while the rule of purdah could be applied to the local elections, it was not in this case relevant to the General Election.

I challenge Theresa May to take immediate action now to deal with illegal levels of pollution and prevent tens of thousands of additional early deaths in the UK.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: "The nation's dirty air is one of the most important public health issues in recent times, and the High Court's decision recognises the need to urgently tackle this crisis".

'Children, people with a lung condition and the elderly will be hit hardest'.

The government could yet appeal the ruling, which might effectively delay the process anyway.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the verdict meant the government "will now have to face its responsibilities sooner rather than later".

'In reality, air pollution is an election issue with or without publication of this plan, and we clearly need robust commitments from all parties on tackling the UK's toxic air'.

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