Air pollution – EU court judgment on the application of ClientEarth v The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
This morning, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered its judgment in a case brought by Client Earth against the UK government over its continued and persistent failure to reduce air pollution. Around 4 300 early deaths occur each year in London that are attributed to air quality related illness – more than deaths attributed to alcoholism or obesity.
Jean Lambert, London Green MEP said:
‘If the government cannot make sure that the air we breathe is clean and safe, the courts must do something – this decision means that people can bring actions, and rightly so. Here in London, overall one of the most polluted places in Britain, the Euston Road is already four times over the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide levels. This is due to two factors, Mayoral inaction from Boris Johnson and unacceptably high nitrogen dioxide levels, I’d like to see both go.’
This ruling is significant because it is the ECJ’s first ruling on the effect of the Air Quality Directive, and will determine what action the UK courts take against the government. It will also set a precedent in respects of EU law which could clear the path for a series of legal challenges across Europe where governments are not protecting people from air pollution.
The case will return to the UK Supreme Court for a final ruling next year, when judges will apply the ECJ’s ruling to the facts in the UK case. This means that it is possible for the UK Supreme Court to order the government to instigate new plans to meet limits faster.
You can read the judgement here, and find out more about Client Earth: