UK: Environmental lawyers ridicule Gove’s air pollution ‘plan for more plans’

James Thornton
James Thornton

Environmental lawyers have criticised the UK government’s new plans on tackling air pollution as “underwhelming” and “a plan for more plans” after it decided not to implement clean air zones in the future.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove published d report this week on the government’s clean air plan after a court ruled last year that it must provide better proposals on how it plans to tackle illegal levels of pollution.

ClientEarth CEO, James Thornton, said: “On our initial examination, this is little more than a shabby rewrite of the previous draft plans and is underwhelming and lacking in urgency. Having promised to make air quality a top priority, Michael Gove appears to have fallen at the first hurdle.

“This plan is, yet again, a plan for more plans. The government is passing the buck to local authorities to come up with their own schemes as an alternative to clean air zones which charge the most polluting vehicles to enter our towns and cities. Yet Defra’s own evidence shows that charging clean air zones would be the swiftest way to tackle illegal levels of pollution.”

He added: “We are still looking at December 2018 before local authorities need to come up with their proposals but we have no idea when those plans would then be put in place or whether they’d be effective. The court ordered action by the UK to obey its own laws as soon as possible. This plan kicks the can down the road yet again.”