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Monday, 21 October

Killer Air - High Court Condemns Government

A High Court ruling came this week ending November 4 that the government has broken the law by failing to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution as quickly as possible.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared that the case, brought by environmental legal group ClientEarth, must be a wake-up call to to finally take effective action to improve air quality in London and around the country.

It is estimated that 9,400 deaths occur each year in London due to illnesses caused by long-term exposure to air pollution, while 448 schools in London are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels.

The ruling on ClientEarth’s challenge, in which the Mayor appeared as an interested party, means that the Government's existing plan for improving air quality will be quashed. Instead, ministers will have to put in place, as quickly as possible, new measures to remove illegal levels of NO2 air pollution.

Khan has begun consulting on a package of measures to tackle London’s killer air. This includes a new T-charge (Emissions Surcharge) in the Congestion Charging Zone in 2017 and potentially introducing the Ultra Low Emission Zone a year earlier in 2019 as well as expanding it up to the North/South circular.

This is said to be the toughest crackdown on the most polluting vehicles by any major city around the world.

Khan said: “Today’s High Court ruling brings sharply into focus the scale of the country’s air pollution crisis and lays the blame at the door of the Government for its complacency in failing to tackle the problem quickly and credibly. In so doing they have let down millions of people the length and breadth of the country.

“Serious action is long overdue and if we had been given the tools to tackle this head-on in the first place we would have been on the road to compliance much sooner. We need bold measures, fit for the 21st century, such as those I have proposed, so people no longer have to fear the air they breathe.

“I am calling for the Government’s revised package of measures to include funding a national diesel scrappage scheme to take the most polluting vehicles off our roads and an overhaul of vehicle excise duty to incentivise the buying of the cleanest vehicles, as well as powers to tackle non-road sources of NO2, including from construction. The Government needs to take urgent action to achieve legal air quality limits, reduce harmful emissions and protect public health.

“The European Union currently provides the legal framework which protects Londoners' right to clean air and the Government must also make sure Brexit isn't used as an excuse to weaken existing standards and delay taking the bold action needed.”

Picture: The High court says the government has broken the law by failing to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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