Judge gives ClientEarth permission to pursue a JR against UK government over air quality

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have been granted permission to take the UK government back to court, over its failure to tackle illegal levels of air pollution. A judge at the High Court has granted their request to pursue a Judicial Review against Defra. ClientEarth’s CEO James Thornton said the decision by the court to grant a hearing was a victory in itself. “The UK government has claimed that it has done everything required by last year’s Supreme Court ruling. By granting us permission to return to court the judge has decided that the government does indeed have a case to answer.”  ClientEarth lodged papers at the High Court in London in March – naming the UK Environment Secretary Liz Truss as defendant.  Papers were also served on Scottish and Welsh ministers, the Mayor of London and the DfT as interested parties in the case. ClientEarth said the government’s latest plans are woefully inadequate and won’t achieve legal air quality limits for years to come. ClientEarth believes the government is in breach of its legal duty to produce new air quality plans to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the “shortest possible time”, despite being ordered to do so by the UK Supreme Court. ClientEarth has asked judges to strike down the plans produced by the government in December, order new ones and intervene to make sure the government acts. #no2dirtyair
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Judge decides UK government will face renewed legal action over air quality

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have been granted permission to take the UK government back to court over its failure to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.

A judge at the High Court has granted our request to pursue a Judicial Review against Defra. It comes on the eve of the anniversary of ClientEarth’s victory at the Supreme Court last year.

ClientEarth’s CEO James Thornton said the decision by the court to grant a hearing was a victory in itself.

He said: “The UK government has claimed that it has done everything required by last year’s Supreme Court ruling.  By granting us permission to return to court the judge has decided that the government does indeed have a case to answer.”

ClientEarth lodged papers at the High Court in London in March – naming the UK Environment Secretary Liz Truss as defendant.

Papers were also served on Scottish and Welsh ministers, the Mayor of London and the Department for Transport as interested parties in the case.

ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: “The government’s new plans to tackle air pollution are woefully inadequate and won’t achieve legal limits for years to come. The longer they are allowed to dither and delay, the more people will suffer from serious illness or an early death.”

“Today’s decision means we will be returning to court to demand that ministers respect our right to breathe clean air. The health evidence is mounting – and as we saw yesterday,  MPs from across the political spectrum agree with us that  the government is not doing enough.”

The UK sees an estimated 40,000 early deaths from air pollution every year. ClientEarth believes the government is in breach of its legal duty  to produce new air quality plans to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the “shortest possible time”, despite being ordered to do so by the UK Supreme Court.

The plans, released on 17 December last year, wouldn’t bring the UK within legal air pollution limits until 2025. The original, legally binding deadline passed in 2010.

ClientEarth has asked judges to strike down those plans, order new ones and intervene to make sure the government acts. The first hearing will take place on a date yet to be set by the court – but most likely during the summer.

#no2dirtyair

ClientEarth press release


Letter from High Court granting permission for ClientEarth (No 2) v Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Following consideration of the documents lodged by the Claimant and the
Acknowledgements of service filed by the Defendant and 3rd and 4th Interested
Party:Order by the Honourable Mr Justice Irwin
1. Permission is hereby granted on Grounds 1 and 2.
2. The action is to be known henceforth as ClientEarth (No 2) v Secretary of
State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

28.4.2016


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See also

All Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution set up, as greatly increased interest in air quality by MPs

A cross-party Parliamentary group of MPs, Peers, businesses and other stakeholders has been set up to specifically look at air pollution issues in the UK, with Labour MP Matthew Pennycook (MP for Greenwich) acting as its chair. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution held its inaugural meeting on 26th April, and 3 vice-chairs were also elected (Daniel Poulter; Helen Hayes;and Baroness Sheehan). Trade organisation the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) will act as secretariat for the Group, through its chief executive, Matthew Farrow. More interested MPs will be recruited. There has recently been a much increased level of interest in air pollution, especially in NO2 – brought into the spotlight by the VW “defeat” devices scandal. The emergence of the group is timely, after the news that ClientEarth has permission to pursue its JR against the government, to get improvements in air quality more rapidly. A week or so earlier, a new joint body between Defra and the DfT was set up – JAQU, Joint Action on Air Quality – to deliver national plans on air quality. Heathrow’s hopes of a 3rd runway are at risk, due to legal levels of NO2 already being breached. Gatwick also risks breaching legal limits, if it had a second runway.

Click here to view full story…

and

All Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution set up, as greatly increased interest in air quality by MPs

A cross-party Parliamentary group of MPs, Peers, businesses and other stakeholders has been set up to specifically look at air pollution issues in the UK, with Labour MP Matthew Pennycook (MP for Greenwich) acting as its chair. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution held its inaugural meeting on 26th April, and 3 vice-chairs were also elected (Daniel Poulter; Helen Hayes;and Baroness Sheehan). Trade organisation the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) will act as secretariat for the Group, through its chief executive, Matthew Farrow. More interested MPs will be recruited. There has recently been a much increased level of interest in air pollution, especially in NO2 – brought into the spotlight by the VW “defeat” devices scandal. The emergence of the group is timely, after the news that ClientEarth has permission to pursue its JR against the government, to get improvements in air quality more rapidly. A week or so earlier, a new joint body between Defra and the DfT was set up – JAQU, Joint Action on Air Quality – to deliver national plans on air quality. Heathrow’s hopes of a 3rd runway are at risk, due to legal levels of NO2 already being breached. Gatwick also risks breaching legal limits, if it had a second runway.

Click here to view full story…

Earlier: 

ClientEarth takes government back to court over the inadequate plan it produced in December

Environmental lawyers, ClientEarth, have launched a new legal challenge against the UK government due to its repeated failure to tackle illegal air pollution. In this latest round of legal action, ClientEarth has lodged papers at the High Court in London seeking judicial review and will serve papers on government lawyers shortly.  As well as the UK Environment Secretary who is named as the defendant, Scottish and Welsh ministers, the Mayor of London and the DfT will also be served with papers as interested parties in the case. ClientEarth believes the government is in breach of a Supreme Court order to clean up air quality.  The Supreme Court ordered DEFRA to produce new air quality plans to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the “shortest possible time”. But the plans the government came up with, released on 17 December 2015, wouldn’t bring the UK within legal air pollution limits until 2025. The original, legally binding deadline passed in 2010. The papers lodged with the High Court ask judges to strike down those plans, order new ones and intervene to make sure the government acts. ClientEarth said: “As the government can’t be trusted to deal with toxic air pollution, we are asking the court to supervise it and make sure it is taking action.”  ClientEarth are launching a fundraising campaign to help fund this work. #NO2DIRTYAIR

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/03/clientearth-takes-government-back-to-court-over-the-inadequate-plan-it-produced-in-december/

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Earlier:

DEFRA produces plan to improve air quality – ClientEarth regards it as inadequate

A ruling by the Supreme Court in April 2015 required the government to produce a comprehensive plan to meet air pollution limits by December. The government has now produced this. The intention is that it has to include low emission zones, congestion charging and other economic incentives. It is thought that due to the failure to meet European limits of harmful NOx gases, which are mostly caused by diesel traffic, there are up to 9,500 premature deaths each year in London alone. Under the government’s plan, “Clean Air Zones” will be introduced – by 2020 – in areas of Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton where pollution is most serious. However, though vehicles like old buses, taxis, coaches and lorries have to pay a charge to enter these zones – private passenger cars will not be charged. Also newer vehicles that meet the latest emission standards will not need to pay. Client Earth, the lawyers who brought the legal case against the UK government, for breaching the EU’s Air Quality Directive, said the plan falls far short of the action necessary to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, and they will make a legal challenge to force the government to take faster action to achieve legal pollution limits. “As soon as possible,” or by 2020, is not soon enough.

Click here to view full story…