Environmental law charity ClientEarth and the campaign group Greenpeace Italy have warned Rome’s regional government that they may pursue court action if ‘effective’ measures to tackle air pollution are not adopted.
The two organisations have claimed that the Lazio regional government has failed to come up with a plan to deal with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter pollution (PM10), which breach current EU air quality limits.
According to the groups the Lazio regional authority is following a plan adopted in 2009 on the basis of air quality laws that pre-dated the EU’s Air Quality Directive, which entered into force in 2010. The plan has failed to bring pollution below legal limits, since adopted through the Directive, the groups have claimed.
The letter, sent today (20 February), calls on the authority to develop an air quality plan outlining specific measures and ‘a detailed implementation timetable’ for when compliance with the Air Quality Directive limits will be achieved.
Commenting on the action, ClientEarth lawyer Ugo Taddei, said: “The Italian capital’s region has a terrible record when it comes to tackling air pollution. In our work across Europe, it’s the first time that we have found an authority that has failed to introduce the mandatory air quality plan, seven years after the entry into force of the Air Quality Directive. The Lazio authorities’ disregard for their legal duties is unacceptable, as it’s the people that breathe this air everyday who are paying the price.
“We don’t have time for more excuses. If the region doesn’t act urgently, we will have no choice but to take them to court to uphold people’s right to breathe clean air.â€?
Italy was one of nine countries recently summoned to Brussels to explain ongoing illegal levels of air pollution to the Commission.
In mid-March the Commission will report back on its next steps, with referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union a possibility.
Andrea Boraschi, Transport Campaign Manager at Greenpeace Italy, said: “While Italy faces legal action from the European Commission, the Lazio authorities have abandoned any attempt to comply with the law. They’ve left large parts of the region suffering with illegal levels of air pollution.â€?
The two organisations are now waiting for a reply from the Lazio regional authority.
ClientEarth has led successful challenges against the UK government’s air quality plan, and is currently awaiting a ruling from a recent hearing into proposals put forward by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in July 2017 to bring the UK into line with EU pollution limits.