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Following a hearing in January, a judge ruled last week that the UK and Welsh governments will be required by law to draw up new plans to cure illegal levels of air pollution. This is the government’s third defeat in the High Court in London to environmental activists ClientEarth.
During the hearing, ClientEarth criticised the UK government’s air quality plans for not outlining measures to reduce pollution levels in 45 local authority areas, and said it had backtracked on Clean Air Zones in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton – which it believes should be mandatory.
Ministers in 33 of the 45 local authorities will be required to identify pollution-curbing measures as soon as possible; the other 12 are projected to be legal by the end of 2018. However, there was no ruling regarding the five ‘Clean Air Zone’ cities as directions were issued from the government in December requiring them to put a business case together to improve air quality.
ClientEarth lawyer, Anna Heslop said, “The problem was supposed to be cleaned up over eight years ago, and yet successive governments have failed to do enough. The people who live in areas of the countries covered by this judgment deserve to be able breathe clean air and the government must now do all it can to make that happen quickly.”