Court orders UK to cut NO2 air pollution

The UK’s highest court has ruled that the government must take immediate action to cut air pollution.

The ruling is a significant victory for campaigners, who began legal action after the UK breached EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air.

Diesel vehicles are a key source of so-called NOx emissions, and NO2 is linked to a range of respiratory illnesses.

The Environment Department said work had already been started on revised plans to meet EU targets on NO2.

In a unanimous ruling, a panel of five judges, headed by the court’s president Lord Neuberger, ordered “that the Government must prepare and consult on new air quality plans for submission to the European Commission… no later than December 31 2015”.

The case had been brought by ClientEarth – a group of environmental lawyers – which notes that air pollution causes tens of thousands of premature deaths a year in the UK.

Announcing the decision, Lord Carnwath said: “The new government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.”


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