Government bid to delay air pollution plan fails

Apr 30, 2017, 01:10
Government bid to delay air pollution plan fails

A bid by the Government to delay publishing its plans to tackle illegal air pollution until after the General Election is being heard by the High Court today.

The judge, Mr Justice Garnham said the government was "obliged to comply with orders of this court as any other litigant", adding that air pollution had created "exceptional public health circumstances".

In many towns in the United Kingdom, nitrogen dioxide frequently exceed legal limits that came into effect in 2010 as part of European Union regulations.

'Air pollution is a controversial subject with or without the Plan being available to respond to, and will continue to be so until the issue of air quality is addressed'.

The deadline for final publication of air quality plans remains as 31 July.

Its original plans were challenged in court by the environmental group ClientEarth and in November a year ago a judge found them to be so poor as to be unlawful.

He added: "The continued failure of the government to publish constitutes a significant threat to public health".

"It is an issue in this election whether the Government publishes the consultation or not".

Defra has argued a delay is necessary in order to comply with election "purdah" rules on government announcements during the election period.

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Nathalie Lieven QC, for ClientEarth, said the Government's application did not identify sufficient grounds to justify a delay until after the General Election.

The new strategy was requested previous year, after a court ruled that existing measures to tackle air pollution proposed by the government did not meet the requirements of law.

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.

Areeba Hamid, a clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said: "The High Court has called out the government on its underhand dodging of the air pollution crisis".

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".

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.

On Thursday in London, the judge rejected the Government's application. "You can't have clean air and a hard Brexit", Davey said.

Following this, opposition the Labour Party's Sadiq Khan told the BBC: "I am pleased that the government will now have to face its responsibilities sooner rather than later".

Secretary of state, Andrea Leadsom, must now work with her department to publish the draft, expected to include clean-air zone measures and vehicle charges for emission levels, in two weeks' time.

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