EU launches legal action over UK air quality

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for its failure to cut excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The UK Supreme Court has already declared that air pollution limits are regularly exceeded in 16 zones across the UK. The Court also noted that air quality improvement plans estimate that for London compliance with EU standards will only be achieved by 2025, fifteen years after the original deadline, and in 2020 for the other 15 zones.

Although the original deadline for meeting the limit values was 1 January 2010, extensions have been agreed with member states that had a credible and workable plan for meeting air quality standards within five years of the original deadline, i.e. by January 2015. The UK has not presented any such plans and the Commission is therefore of the opinion that the UK is in breach of its obligations under the Air Quality Directive, and a letter of formal notice has been sent. The UK has two months to respond.

Source: European Commission press release 20 February 2014.

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