UK air pollution far worse than previously thought
A court-ordered air pollution plan released today by the UK government shows that the problem is far worse than previously thought, analysis by lawyers at ClientEarth has found.
After being ordered to carry out detailed studies, the plan reveals that eight local authorities found higher levels of air pollution in their areas than government projections had suggested.
ClientEarth said some people could now have to wait until 2028 for dangerous levels of pollution to subside, despite legal limits for nitrogen dioxide coming into force back in 2010.
“Today’s pitiful plan shows that the government’s strategy to tackle air pollution by passing the buck to local authorities is in tatters,” ClientEarth clean air lawyer, Katie Nield, said.
“It’s absolutely staggering that only now, eight years after legal limits came into force, the true extent of the problem is being uncovered for large areas of the country.”
Portsmouth, Liverpool, Leicester, Stoke-on-Trent, Bradford, Bolsover, Broxbourne and Newcastle-under-Lyme were all areas that found higher levels of air pollution than expected.
ClientEarth said another 12 local authorities projected to have legal levels of air pollution by 2018 could also be at risk.
This comes after the environmental lawyers won three legal cases against the government for failing to tackle the problem, which is thought to be responsible for 29,000 premature deaths in the UK every year.
Portsmouth, Leicester and Newcastle-under-Lyme have now been directed to carry out more detailed studies, but are said to have identified measures that can bring forward compliance quicker.
Another 10 areas have been ordered to retrofit approximately 400 buses with emission reducing technology, introduce traffic management measures to cut congestion, and carry out behavioural change campaigns.
Environment minister, Thérèse Coffey said: “We know urgent action is still required to tackle roadside air pollution in our towns and cities.
“This is why through our £3.5bn national air quality plan, we are working with local authorities across the UK, and I am pleased 10 local authorities will now implement new measures to drive down pollution.”
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Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM