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Brexit ‘could downgrade air quality protection’

Fears have been expressed by environmental campaigners that EU air quality legislation will be downgraded or scrapped following the UK’s vote to leave the union.

Britain has voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union after 43 years of membership.

Court

Dr Claire Holman, chair of the UK's Air Quality Management, believes environment legislation will suffer following Brexit

Dr Claire Holman, chair of the UK’s Air Quality Management, believes environment legislation could suffer following Brexit

Environmental lawyers and pressure group ClientEarth today confirmed that its action against the government, to be heard in October for breaches of European air quality standards, will still go ahead.

A spokesman for ClientEarth said: “We are worried in the long-term that the UK government will try to weaken environmental laws that have come from the European Union. In the short-term there is no change to our court action against the executive.”

Last year ClientEarth won its case at the Supreme Court, which ordered ministers to draw up new anti-pollution plans to ensure compliance.

However, the government’s strategy to tackle air pollution in London by 2025 led to the renewed court action.

Agenda

Dr Claire Holman, chair of the UK’s Air Quality Management, revealed she believes the environment will not be high on the government’s agenda going forward.

She said: “I am shocked by the EU referendum result, I had hoped for a Remain victory today. I expect environmental legislation will be very low down on the government’s list of priorities.

“The executive may now try to ignore ClientEarth’s legal action, but the process to leave the EU will take a minimum of two years, and if you believe the newspapers it could take seven years to even a decade.

“The European Union is well known for not concluding negotiations quickly.”

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