Supreme Court rules UK government is breaching pollution laws

The UK will need to improve its plans for tackling air pollution after the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the government has breached laws that protect people from the harmful effects of air pollution.

The UK will need to improve its plans for tackling air pollution after the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the government has breached laws that protect people from the harmful effects of air pollution.

The ruling paves the way for the European Commission to take legal action against the UK.

The case, brought by ClientEarth, concerns 16 cities and regions (including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow) which government plans show will suffer from illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas, until as late as 2020 or 2025.

Five judges ruled that Defra – the government department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues – has breached the EU’s Air Quality Directive because its plans will fail to ensure the country meets legal EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels by 2015.

The Supreme Court confirmed that because the government is in breach of the EU Air Quality Directive, the way is now open for “immediate enforcement action at national or European level”.

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton called it a “historic ruling” which “marks a turning point in the fight for clean air”.

“Faced with court action on two fronts, he must now come up with an ambitious plan to protect people from carcinogenic diesel fumes. Until now, his only policy has been lobbying in Europe to try and weaken air pollution laws,” he said.

12 Responses to “Supreme Court rules UK government is breaching pollution laws”

  1. SadButMadLad

    That picture is of cooling towers. You know what comes out of cooling towers? Steam. Not smoke. Not particulates. Not NO2. Just water.

    But back to the case. So the UK government has failed to control the weather that allowed pollution to build up. The UK government has also failed to micromanage business and control them to the nth degree to stop them polluting the air. Pollution that is set to an arbitrary limit using numbers pulled out of thin air.

    So because businesses pollute, the government pays. Typical joined up thinking by those technocrats who can’t organise a piss up in a brewery.

  2. Cole

    So you think it’s just fine that pollution kills about 29,000 people in the UK every year? Let’s just do nothing about it.

    Of course many of the same people who want to do nothing are making absurd claims about the NHS ‘murdering’ thousands of people.

  3. SadButMadLad

    Does it really kill 29,000 every single year. I think you are extrapolating a bit too much to assign pollution as a cause for that many deaths. There are about 1/2 million deaths every year in the UK for any cause and any age. So pollution kills about 6% of the UK every single year. If that was really true, then the health authorities would be on red alert.

    What you are doing is assigning to a percentage of respiratory and other diseases the cause of pollution. But that is just numbers made up out of thin air using the same dodgy stats that say that Stafford is killing thousands. Pollution itself encompasses many different things. Someone could die from Asthma after a bad hay fever attack. Is the pollen pollution?

  4. Cole

    The figures are from Defra, who, if anything, would want to downplay the numbers given that they don’t want to do anything about the problem.

    Why do you imagine the government would want to do anything about it? They’ve demonstrated pretty clearly that they don’t – which was why ClientEarth took them to court (see article above) in the first place.

  5. SadButMadLad

    Defra downplay the numbers? You got to be joking. Think about their raison d’être. They depend on making pollution a big huge problem so that they can get more money and grow their empire.

  6. SadButMadLad

    Defra downplay the numbers? You got to be joking. Think about their raison d’être. They depend on making pollution a big huge problem so that they can get more money and grow their empire.

  7. Cole

    Er, Owen Paterson. In what way is he an ‘environment’ minister?

  8. Cole

    Er, Owen Paterson. In what way is he an ‘environment’ minister?

  9. SadButMadLad

    No not politicians growing their empire. Defra itself. Civil servants. Bigger budget, more staff, more influence. What’s not to like about making things sound scarier than they are if that’s the result. Simple FUD.

    As for Owen, he’s more for the farmers than any other cause. Farmers are sometimes in favour of the environment, sometimes they abuse it.

  10. SadButMadLad

    No not politicians growing their empire. Defra itself. Civil servants. Bigger budget, more staff, more influence. What’s not to like about making things sound scarier than they are if that’s the result. Simple FUD.

    As for Owen, he’s more for the farmers than any other cause. Farmers are sometimes in favour of the environment, sometimes they abuse it.

  11. SadButMadLad

    No not politicians growing their empire. Defra itself. Civil servants. Bigger budget, more staff, more influence. What’s not to like about making things sound scarier than they are if that’s the result. Simple FUD.

    As for Owen, he’s more for the farmers than any other cause. Farmers are sometimes in favour of the environment, sometimes they abuse it.

  12. Cole

    I agree that Paterson is for farmers and, apparently, foreign pesticide companies too.

    But no-one, as far as I know, has challenged the figure of 29,000 dying each year from dirty air that the government can’t be arsed to try to clean up. Even if its half the number, it’s still a lot of people.

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