High Court rules that Government plans to tackle air pollution are “seriously flawed”: reaction from Friends of the Earth

21st February 2018

The High Court has again ruled that the government’s plan to tackle air pollution in the UK is “seriously flawed”, as ClientEarth took the government to court for the third time today and won (21 February 2018).

In reaction to the verdict Jenny Bates, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“This is the third time that the government has faced a court verdict showing that its action to tackle air pollution is failing. Perhaps if the government spent as much time coming up with a decent air quality plan as it did briefing lawyers to claim that current plans are adequate, we may see the progress we need.

“We’re seeing too little, too late from the government, and as a result people across the country will continue suffering unnecessarily. Levels of air pollution are illegally high in areas right across the country and air pollution is responsible for tens of thousands of early deaths a year in the UK.

“The UK is currently one of the worst nations in Europe when it comes to air pollution levels. The government must invest in a more extensive national network of Clean Air Zones to come into effect far sooner than currently planned, ensure London’s planned Ultra-Low Emissions Zone is expanded, and improve public transport as well as walking and cycling facilities 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 all vehicles across the whole of the city rather than just Inner London, and come into effect far sooner than the currently planned date, so that all Londoners can benefit from cleaner air
  • 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

Friends of the Earth is also inviting everyone across the UK to get involved in improving air quality in their local area. By ordering your own Clean Air Kit you can test the air you breathe every day and help to tackle air pollution.

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 what action around Clean Air Zones Friends of the Earth want to see.