European Union orders UK to cut pollution from diesel vehicles

British government told to comply with EU nitrogen dioxide limits as soon as possible

By Priyanka Singh
Published: Thursday 20 November 2014

Around 29,000 people die early each year from air pollution in the UK (Photo: David Holt/Flickr)

The European Union's highest court on Wednesday ruled that Britain's courts have the authority to order the British government to comply with EU nitrogen dioxide limits as soon as possible. With this, the UK government will come under renewed pressure to cut pollution from diesel vehicles.

According to the report published in the BBC, around  29,000 people die early each year from air pollution in the UK and the government is supposed to have cleaned up nitrogen dioxide pollution in cities by 2015.

The case will now return to the British Supreme Court for a final ruling next year and the court is likely to order the government to take action to meet deadlines of cleaner cities by 2030.
Alan Andrews, ClientEarth lawyer, was quoted by the BBC as saying, “This ruling is a big victory for the millions of people who want to live healthy lives in the UK’s towns and cities. This will force the government to finally take this issue seriously and come up with an urgent plan to rid our towns and cities of cancer-causing diesel fumes.

“The government has done next to nothing to try to achieve the target of cleaning up the pollution by 2015. The UK Supreme Court will now set a standard that the government must achieve – and that will mean the government driving down diesel emissions.”

ClientEarth’s legal case refers to 16 zones where nitrogen dioxide limits are being breached. West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Teesside, The Potteries, Kingston Upon Hull, Southampton, Glasgow, Eastern England, South East England, East Midlands, North West & Merseyside, Yorkshire & Humberside, West Midlands, North East England and Greater London.

According to the European Environment Agency's latest annual air quality report, the only EU countries which did not exceed NO2 levels in most of the years between 2001 and 2013 were Estonia and Ireland.

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