Mayor welcomes High Court ruling that government has broken the law over air pollution

PUBLISHED: 16:26 02 November 2016 | UPDATED: 16:26 02 November 2016

Traffic is a major source of air pollution  Photo: Pawel Czaja

Traffic is a major source of air pollution Photo: Pawel Czaja


The High Court has ruled the government's Air Quality Plan is legally flawed

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has welcomed a High Court ruling that the government has broken the law by failing to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution as quickly as possible.

A judge today declared the environment secretary’s current Air Quality Plan (AQP) legally flawed and ruled that it “must be quashed” and replaced by a modified, improved plan.

Mr Justice Garnham said the secretary of state “fell into error by adopting too optimistic a model of future emissions”.

The legal action was brought by legal non-governmental organisation ClientEarth, which argued the AQP was “flawed, woefully inadequate - and needs to be drastically improved”.

As a result of the ruling, the government must take immediate action to remove illegal levels of NO2 air pollution.

The mayor said: “This must now act as a real wake-up call to government to finally get to grips with this national health emergency that is causing 9,400 deaths every year just in London alone.

“Serious action by the government 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.”

Mr Khan added that, with the European Union currently providing the legal framework which protects Londoners’ right to clean air, Brexit must not be used as an excuse to water down standards.

Prime minister Theresa May’s official spokeswoman told reporters: “We are accepting today’s court judgment and will consider now the details and set out next steps in due course.”

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