Government to appear in court once again over its continued failure to tackle toxic air: reaction from Friends of the Earth

The UK Government will appear at the Royal Courts of Justice tomorrow morning (25 January 2018) as plans to tackle air pollution in the UK continue to fall short of what is needed.
  Published:  24 Jan 2018    |      Last updated:  08 Oct 2018    |      1 minute read

In response to the government's continued failure to tackle toxic air, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates said:

“For years the UK Government has failed to properly address the toxic air that many of us have to breathe; and has more than once been found wanting by the courts because of it. Even the government’s most recent Air Quality Plan for Nitrogen Dioxide (published last summer) proposes too little, too late and as a result people across the UK would continue suffering unnecessarily. Air pollution contributes to 40,000 early deaths* a year across the UK; with children and other vulnerable groups particularly at risk.

“It’s time for the government to stop dragging its feet and commit to the urgent action needed. The government must invest in a properly funded national network of Clean Air Zones, ensure London’s planned Ultra-Low Emissions Zone is expanded, and improve public transport in order to fix the quality of the air we breathe across the UK as soon as possible.”

Friends of the Earth is calling for urgent government action to quickly and drastically improve air quality including:

  • A network of effective Clean Air Zones across the country to help people breathe more easily. Friends of the Earth wants to see Clean Air Zones covering 53 places in England, with Devolved Administrations considered separately – these must include all vehicle types, and be in place by the end of 2018. Effective Clean Air Zones will lead to fewer (and cleaner) cars on our roads, safer streets, more welcoming neighbourhoods and, vitally, healthier lungs for our children
  • While an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone has been proposed in London; this must cover the whole of the city rather than just inner London, so that all Londoners can benefit from cleaner air. It must also come into effect far sooner than currently planned
  • Investment in better public transport, more walking and cycling facilities and a national, government-led scrappage scheme to help people move away from the most polluting vehicles

Read Friends of the Earth’s Too Little, Too Late: A critique of the Air Quality Plan for a summary of key points in the government’s final Air Quality Plan for NO2 (2017) as well as a critique from Friends of the Earth.

* In September 2018 the government's Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) revised this figure to “up to 36,000 premature deaths a year”.