BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 29 Apr '15

UK Supreme Court orders government to take ‘immediate action’ on air pollution

The UK Supreme Court has quashed the government’s ineffective plans to cut illegal levels of air pollution in Britain and ordered it to deliver new ones by the end of the year.

The Supreme Court Justices were unanimous in their decision, which was handed down this morning, saying, ‘The new government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.’

The five-year battle

The historic ruling is the culmination of a five-year legal battle fought by ClientEarth for the right of British people to breathe clean air.

The ruling will save thousands of lives a year by forcing the government to clean up pollution from diesel vehicles, the main source of the illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide found in many of the UK’s towns and cities.

‘Air pollution kills tens of thousands of people in this country every year. We brought our case because we have a right to breathe clean air and today the Supreme Court has upheld that right.  

‘This ruling will benefit everyone’s health but particularly children, older people and those with existing health conditions like asthma and heart and lung disease.

‘The next government, regardless of the political party or parties which take power, is now legally bound to take urgent action on this public health crisis. Before next week’s election all political parties need to make a clear commitment to policies which will deliver clean air and protect our health.’

Alan Andrews, ClientEarth lawyer

The Supreme Court ruling means the government must start work on a comprehensive plan to meet pollution limits as soon as possible. Among the measures that it must consider are low emission zones, congestion charging and other economic incentives.

ClientEarth is calling for action to clean up the worst polluting diesel vehicles, including through a national network of low emission zones.

ClientEarth is a group of activist lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet. Click here to find out more and pledge your support.