Nitrogen dioxide causes 23,500 early deaths in the UK. Photo: Flickr.com / XPGomes11 CC BY-NC
New UK air quality plan dismissed as inadequate
Following a court order, the UK government published on 5 May a new plan to control nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Levels of NO2 have been above legal limits in almost 90 per cent of urban areas in the UK since 2010 and are estimated to cause 23,500 early deaths a year.
“The court ordered the government to take this public health issue seriously and while the government says that pollution is the largest environmental risk to public health, we will still be faced with illegal air quality for years to come under these proposals,” said James Thornton, chief executive of ClientEarth, the environmental lawyers that forced the government to deliver the proposals.
According to ClientEarth, the new air quality plan is weak and incoherent, and lacks the ambition and detail to tackle Britain’s illegal levels of air pollution. “There needs to be a national network of clean air zones which prevent the most polluting vehicles from entering the most illegally polluted streets in our towns and cities,” Thornton added.
Consultation on the new plan is due to close on 15 June, with results not expected until 31 July.
Sources: ClientEarth press release and the Guardian, 5 May 2017
The UK government’s plan: https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/no2ten/