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Government faces third pollution court date

Automobile exhaust gas

Activist group ClientEarth is taking the government to court for a third time over its attempts to tackle air quality.

The body will take a case to the High Court over the draft Air Quality Plan, which was published on 5 May this year.

A European Court of Justice ruling back in 2014 effectively ordered the government to produce plans to cut nitrogen dioxide levels to below limits set out in the Air Quality Directive.

Under the government’s proposals, local councils would be expected to enforce clean air zones in a bid to reduce dangerous levels of pollution, primarily nitrogen dioxide emitted from diesel vehicles.

ClientEarth described the plans as “weak” and accused the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) of “passing the buck”. The campaign body urged the government to make improvements – which it refused to do.

ClientEarth won a High Court Case over the government over the issue last year and a Supreme Court ruling in 2015.

James Thornton, chief executive of the environmental law group, said: ”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.”

A spokesperson for Defra said it would be inappropriate to comment during ongoing legal proceedings. A public consultation is being held on the draft Air Quality Plan until 31 July.


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