Court date again over illegal air pollution

The government will be taken to court for a third time over its plans to tackle the UK’s illegal levels of air pollution, which contains ‘major flaws’.

ClientEarth, which has inflicted two humiliating defeats on the government over previous plans, wrote to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to ask for improvements, after carefully scrutinising the department’s air quality plans on 5 May.

However, after Defra refused, ClientEarth revealed that they were left with ‘no option but to ask the court how best to fix the problems’ and will launch an online consultation tool to help people respond to the government’s current plan.

James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth said: “We have been looking at the fine detail of the draft Air Quality Plans published by the government. We want to respond to the government’s consultation, and want others to be able to as well.

“We have found some major flaws. The law requires the final plan to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the shortest time possible. These flaws seriously jeopardise that timetable. These are plans for more plans, what we need are plans for action.

“The government’s plans and consultation do not match what its own evidence says needs to happen. If the evidence shows that taking certain measures will be necessary to tackle the public health crisis of polluted air, then the plans and associated consultation needs to make that clear. This is essential so that people can have their say and we get the best possible final plans when they are due to be published, as ordered by the court, on July 31.”