UK AIR QUALITY CASE HEADS TO SUPREME COURT

03/11/2013

The United Kingdom Supreme Court may force the United Kingdom to take urgent measures to rapidly reduce air pollution in British cities as the government admitted that air quality laws will be breached in 15 regions until 2020. The case, which will be heard by five law lords, concerns claims by ClientEarth that the government has a legal duty to comply with EU time scales and that its plans to reduce pollution are inadequate. In June, an appeals court dismissed the suit, which claimed the government acted illegally by failing to reduce nitrogen pollution, an allegation with which the judges on the court agreed. However, the court decided it was up to the EU, not Britain, to determine whether the government's intention to delay compliance was admissible. The EU legislation was passed in 1999, and the UK was due to comply by 2010. However, it has refused to apply for an extension until 2015. The government has faced increased scrutiny over its air quality measures in the past year. In July, the EU denied plans to delay air improvements as the UK considered a ban on heavily polluting traffic. According to government statistics, UK air pollution reduced life expectancy by up to eight months and is the second biggest public health threat after smoking. Air pollution is estimated to cost the government over $30 billion a year. For the full story, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/07/supreme-court-air-pollution-legislation?CMP=twt_gu and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21691784. Earlier: http://elr.info/international/international-update/uk-court-appeals-dismisses-pollution-suit, http://elr.info/international/international-update/uks-plans-delay-air-improvements-denied.