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Environmentalists challenge UK government over ‘useless’ clean-up plan

18 March 2016 14:30



Environmentalists in the UK have pressed charges against the government over its mismanagement of deadly air pollution in the country.   

Environmental law group ClientEarth on Friday lodged a complaint with the high court against the UK government. The mayor of London, Scottish and Welsh ministers and the Department for Transport are also targeted by the complaint.

ClientEarth has asked the high court to urgently review the latest plans by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) in meeting the EU targets on the toxic gas NO2, which is thought to kill about 25,000 people in the UK a year.

ClientEarth and other environmentalist organizations including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Healthy Air campaign believe Defra’s plans to fight air pollution are inadequate.

Defra has defended the government anti-pollution campaign claiming their “plans will improve the UK’s air quality through a new program of clean air zones, which alongside national action and continued investment in clean technologies will create cleaner, healthier air for all.”

Alan Andrews, a lawyer at ClientEarth, cited flaws in the plan, saying, “The plan they came up with [in December 2015] was just not good enough. It was a plan for a plan. These are classic delaying tactics. Meanwhile thousands of people are dying.”

“As the government can’t be trusted to deal with toxic air pollution, we are now asking the court to intervene and make sure it is taking action. It is a disgrace that we have had to take further legal action to force the government to protect our health,” said Andrews.

“Government has been delaying for years. This challenge will force a full legal examination of Defra’s plans,” he said.

The air pollution issue came under spotlight once more this week when UK’s Labor leader, Jeremy Corbyn revealed half a million people will die from air pollution in the next 10 years if the UK government does not take serious measures to stop air pollution.

On Thursday, the former Labor leader Ed Miliband described the government’s anti-pollution plan as “useless” and said people should stage marching rallies against it.

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