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Government to face latest NO2 plan legal challenge

The government will return to court today (25 January) to defend its plan to tackle air pollution in the UK.

The case, being heard in the High Court this morning, is the third to be brought by the environmental law charity ClientEarth which has led successful campaigns against the government over its air quality plans to bring the UK into compliance with EU limits on nitrogen dioxide.

A hearing on the latest version of the government’s air quality plan will take place in London today

Mr Justice Garnham, who has heard previous challenges against the government on air quality will preside over the hearing.

ClientEarth has named the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Transport Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs in the Welsh Government within its judicial review challenge.

According to the charity, the government’s latest plan for addressing nitrogen dioxide pollution at roadside locations “falls far short of what is needed to bring air pollution to within legal limits as soon as possible”.

The group had previously led two successful legal campaigns against the government over its air quality plans, the latest of which in 2016 resulted in a renewed plan having been put forward in July last year.

The July plan for tackling roadside NO2 concentrations identifies more than 20 local authority areas where breach of the legal limits are expected and directs local authorities to produce a plan to address the problem by spring 2018.

However, ClientEarth has claimed that this backtracks on previous commitments to order five cities to introduce ‘clean air zones’ by 2020, and does not require any action in 45 local authorities in England, despite them having NO2 levels that breach EU limits, as well as in Wales.

The legal charity will call on the Court to declare the government’s latest plan unlawful and to order the government to take further steps to address air pollution.

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