On 2nd November, the government lost the air pollution case at high court against legal NGO ClientEarth who brought the case up, and now must devise a way to cut toxic air in the UK as quickly as possible, because the court ruled that the current standard is so poor that it is illegal.
The Guardian reported last week, that Ministers may be looking for a way to make these cuts by charging drivers of polluting diesel vehicles to enter many city centres across Britain, after the government accepted in the high court on Wednesday 2nd November that its current plans to tackle the country’s air pollution adversity were so poor they broke the law.
Mr Justice Garnham ruled that the government’s 2015 Air Quality Plan was not “adequate” and said it was “remarkable” that ministers knew they were using over-optimistic pollution modelling, based on flawed lab tests of diesel vehicles rather than actual emissions on the road, but proceeded anyway. Additionally, he said the law should reflect the protection of health to come above the costs of measures: “I reject any suggestion that the state can have any regard to cost.”
The Guardian have said: “The most likely measure is using charges to deter polluting diesel vehicles from “clean air zones” in urban centres, which could be in place next year in London and in 2018 in Birmingham and other cities. Nitrogen dioxide, the pollutant at the heart of the legal case, has been at illegal levels in 90% of the country’s air quality zones since 2010 and largely stems from diesel vehicles.”
Last week, it was agreed that both parties would return to court in a week to agree on the next steps. Now Ministers have rejected the court proposal to deliver an effective plan within 8 months, as ClientEarth suggested. The case will now return to court at an unidentified upcoming date, when the judge will govern what happens next.