2 May 2017
Here is the latest in the story about the national government's continued failure to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis, for which *the government’s own figures showed that nitrogen dioxide pollution – primarily from diesel traffic – is linked to the premature deaths of 23,500 people a year in the UK.
The government is now having to publish its tough new plans to tackle air pollution after the high court rejected attempts by ministers to keep the policy hidden until after the general election.
Last Thursday, 27th April, the judge ordered ministers to publish their draft plan within two weeks – on 9 May and said the government must comply with his original order and release their final policy on tackling the air crisis by 31 July.
This judgement comes after ministers applied to keep their plans secret until after the general election, saying it was necessary to “comply with pre-election rules”.
Challenging this, the court decided that the threat to public health constituted “exceptional circumstances”, which meant purdah guidelines in the run-up to the general election could be ignored. “Immediate publication [of the policy] is essential,” he said because it was essential to publish draft plans to cut air pollution, immediately, to safeguard public health.
From the health profession, Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said common sense had won over -
“The nation’s dirty air is one of the most important public health issues in recent times. The high court’s decision recognises the need to urgently tackle this crisis.”
The new measures are likely to include:
The imposition of multiple Clean-Air-Zones across the country, where drivers will face fines if their vehicles do not pass roadside emissions tests.
“These steps are necessary in order to safeguard public health,” said the high court judge. “The continued failure of the government to comply with directives and regulations constitutes a significant threat to public health.”