UK court rules government’s plans to combat air pollution ‘unlawful’

UK court rules government’s plans to combat air pollution ‘unlawful’

A UK High Court judge ruled [judgment, PDF] Wednesday that the UK government’s plan to combat air pollution is “unlawful” and “seriously flawed.”

Justice Garnham urged the government to investigate and identify ways to bring air quality back to its legal levels as soon as possible.

The case was brought by ClientEarth [advocacy website], a group of activist lawyers, claiming that the 2017 Air Quality Plan did not meet the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ legal obligation to regulate levels of air pollution. This was the third plan that the UK government had written in order to address the UK’s air pollution problem; the other two were also ruled to be deficient.

In addition to ruling in favor ClientEarth, Garnham granted them the power to bring the government back to court without judicial review if it continues to have concerns over the government’s air quality plans. He said that this action was warranted, given the government’s repeated failure to develop an adequate plan.

This plan was ruled to be deficient because it did not require 45 local councils, whose air quality is below legal levels, to take any action to correct the pollution problem. A number of the councils are predicted to have legal air quality levels by the end of the year, but this was ruled to not be enough. Garnham insisted that the government find a way to bring air quality levels back up to their legal levels in a timely manner.