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UK receives “final warning” from Europe for breaching air pollution limits

The UK government must introduce Clean Air Zones across the country and commit to cleaning up the UK’s air faster says Friends of the Earth, as the European Commission today (15 February) issues a “final warning” demanding that the UK comply with EU air pollution rules.

The Commission has sent a formal request to the UK government asking it to comply with air pollution laws, after the UK has failed to meet legal air pollution limits for the toxic gas Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) since 2010. If the UK continues to fail to comply, the next step could see the matter referred to the European Court of Justice.

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner said:

“It’s shameful that the EU has to take legal action against the UK government to get it to deal with the dangerous levels of dirty air across the country.

“Air pollution is responsible for tens of thousands of early deaths every year and is harming the health of an entire generation of children. Current government plans have been shown to be too little too late.

“With road traffic the biggest problem, and diesels worst of all, the government must fund Clean Air Zones in pollution hot spots across the country. This would help to restrict the most polluting vehicles and save lives.

“We also need a new Clean Air Act in place to protect the public from air pollution post-Brexit, when we can no longer rely on European rules and courts to kick the UK government into action.”

Friends of the Earth is calling for:
• Clean Air Zones in all areas failing limits for NO2, for all vehicle types, in place by 2018
• Government commitment to phasing out diesel by 2025
• Road tax changes so that diesels are disincentivised
• A carefully-designed vehicle scrappage scheme for clean vehicles and alternatives to driving
• A new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st Century to help safeguard existing legal protections and move us towards World Health Organisation recommended levels

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