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Air pollution lawyers threaten cities over inaction

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More than 30 councils have been threatened with legal action in an attempt to force their hand to take radical action in tackling toxic fumes from diesel vehicles, LGC has learned.

ClientEarth, the campaign group which has repeatedly challenged the government in the High Court over its plans to tackle air pollution, has written to the 36 councils tasked with reducing dangerous nitrogen dioxide pollution levels under the national clean air strategy.

LGC has seen a copy of one of the letters, which was sent to the chief executive of a council that has decided not to introduce a clean air zone. 

It said “considerations such as cost or political unpopularity are not lawful reasons for excluding effective measures” to tackle air pollution. 

It continued: ”The courts have also been clear that air quality plans must be finalised and implemented as soon as can be. The longer the city council delays taking urgent action to reduce pollution, the longer the health of the people of [the city] remains at risk.

”We remind the council that if its final full business case does not satisfy the necessary legal requirements, it will be vulnerable to legal challenge.”

The letter, sent on 15 March, said it was now nine years since legal limits for nitrogen dioxide came into force but latest figures showed that “illegal levels of this harmful pollutant persist in your local authority area”.

A copy of the letter has also been sent to the environment secretary. 


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