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Welsh Government granted air quality plan extension

The Welsh Government has been granted an extension to the deadline for the submission of its plan to address illegal levels of air pollution by the High Court until the end of November.

Welsh Ministers admitted in the Court in January that they had failed to bring forward a firm plan to improve air quality and meet legal limits for nitrogen dioxide emissions (see airqualitynews.com story).

The Welsh Assembly building in Cardiff

The Court set a July 31 deadline for the Welsh Government to put together a new plan that would address roadside air pollution emissions at several locations that were found to be in excess of the 40µg/m3 NO2 limit.

A package of measures aimed at addressing air quality in Wales was launched for consultation in April (see airqualitynews.com story), which was due to form the basis of the final Welsh plan, to be finalised by next week.

However, the Welsh Government has now conceded that it will be unable to meet the original deadline, and had submitted an application to the Court to have this pushed back to 30 November – a request that was this week granted by the court.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “We are committed to tackling air pollution in Wales and have already put in place a range of measures to improve air quality in areas where targets are not currently being met. We will publish an interim plan by 31 July setting out current actions being taken in Wales. The final plan will be published on or before the 30 November 2018.â€?

‘Concern’

ClientEarth, the legal campaign group which has taken government to court over its air quality plans, has expressed concern over the extension of the deadline. The group had previously raised alarm over the level of detail within the Welsh Government’s consultation proposals (see airqualitynews.com story).

The charity’s clean air lawyer Katie Nield, said: “We’re very concerned that the Welsh Government is still clearly struggling to comply with its legal obligations and get a grip of the air pollution crisis in Wales, eight years after legal limits should have been met.

“Their inability to comply with the original court deadline is the latest in a long line of failures.  Pushing back the timetable for production of an air pollution plan will lead to further delays to action being taken to protect the health of people in Wales.

“The Welsh Government needs to recognise the seriousness of the situation and act as quickly as it can to identify measures to tackle pollution, rather than reneging on its promises to the court.â€?

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