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Leicester welcomes High Court air quality ruling

Leicester city council has welcomed the High Court ruling that will require the local authority to take steps to address illegal levels of air pollution within the city.

The council had been expected to comply with EU air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide by 2020 – and had therefore not been mandated to carry out additional steps to tackle air pollution in the government’s July 2017 plan (see airqualitynews.com story).

Leicester air quality

Leicester city council is seeking to introduce a clean air zone within the city

However, as a result of last week’s ruling,  which ruled the plan ‘unlawful’, Leicester and a further 32 local authorities will be mandated to carry out studies to identify whether any measures could bring the city into compliance with the legal limits in a shorter timeframe (see airqualitynews.com story).

According to the council, the ruling represents ‘good news’ for the city’s efforts to tackle air pollution, as it will potentially open up access to additional funding for the study and any resulting measures that are identified as being necessary to comply with the legal limits.

The council is seeking to deliver a clean air zone by 2026 or sooner, and may seek to use funding support from government to implement the measure, it has said.

‘Mandate’

Commenting on the ruling, Cllr Adam Clarke, Leicester’s deputy city mayor responsible for the environment, said: “This is very good news for Leicester, and mandating is exactly what we have been asking from the government all along.

“Mandating will set definite targets for air quality in the city, including enabling us to create a clean air zone, as well as freeing up funding to allow us to do this work.”

Representatives from Leicester city council, as well as the other local authorities mandated to take action as a result of the ruling have been invited to London on Wednesday (28 February) to discuss potential actions to be carried out with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Cllr Clarke added: “I now look forward to meeting with Defra on February 28 to discuss what measures as part of mandating will make a real improvement to the city’s air quality.”

According to the city council, Leicester’s Air Quality Action Plan would look to introduce a low-emission zone for buses and taxis, as well as implementing an ultra-low emission zone that would cover all vehicles larger than a motor-cycle.

The plan also commits to extending the city’s Connecting Leicester works to promote sustainable travel such as walking and cycling.

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