28 April 2017
The high court has ruled that the government cannot delay the publication of its new plans to tackle air pollution, citing that its threat to public health constitutes “exceptional circumstances” .
Following a long-running legal battle with environmental lawyers ClientEarth, courts gave the government until Monday 24 April to set out draft guidelines to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis. However, late last week, ministers lodged an application to delay the release until after the general election in June. This request has been denied. Ministers are now required to publish their draft plan by 9 May and release their final policy on tackling the problem by 31 July.
Last week, the UK’s three Green MEPs – Jean Lambert (MEP for London), Molly Scott Cato (MEP for the South West) and Keith Taylor (MEP for the South East) – wrote to minister Andrea Leadsom demanding to know why the government has failed to fulfill its legal and moral duty to clean up our air .
Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP, says:
“I applaud the high court for standing its ground against the UK Government, and refusing to allow our elected representatives to delay the publication of its air pollution policies for any longer.
The government’s own statistics show that toxic air causes up to 50,000 early deaths a year in this country. My constituency, London, is hit the hardest – in the capital some 9,000 people lose their lives prematurely each year because of our filthy air . Ministers are aware of this air pollution crisis, but have chosen to brush this under the carpet to prioritise their own political gains.
Throughout this long-running legal battle, the government has revealed its true colours – showing complete disdain for public health, rules and regulations, and the legal system. I urge the Government not to appeal the court’s decision. Instead it should grasp this opportunity to outline robust new policies that will clean up our planet, protect our children, and save thousands of lives.”
 Letter to Andrea Leadsom available on request.