UK government must drastically reduce pollution, law firm cautions

Environmental law firm Client Earth has warned the UK government that if it does not drastically reduce air pollution it could face renewed legal action.

The law firm has argued that the government must act more to tackle air pollution, including the imposition of new measures and improving its current policies. It has given ministers 10 days to respond.

Official figures suggest that around 40,000 people die prematurely every year in the UK because of bad air quality. While ministers have responded to bad air quality by creating anti-pollution zones in areas such as Leeds, Southhampton, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and London, it is still unlikely that the UK will meet EU health standards until 2020 or 2025 in London.

In an interview with the BBC, Alan Andrews from ClientEarth, said: “Throughout our five-year legal battle the government have claimed they couldn't achieve legal limits because of the problems with the EU standards for diesel vehicles not delivering pollution reductions under normal driving conditions - but they failed to investigate why.

"Then they lobbied the EU to water down new regulations which will require new diesel cars to meet emissions limits on the road. As a consequence, new diesel cars will be able to emit double the emission limit until 2021."

Client Earth has claimed that it will ask the High Court to compel ministers to submit improved plans to combat pollution if the government fails to provide new measures.

Commenting on the UK’s pollution problem, a government spokesman said: "Our plans clearly set out how we will improve the UK's air quality through a new programme of Clean Air Zones, which alongside national action and continued investment in clean technologies will create cleaner, healthier air for all."

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