The UK is one of six EU member states referred to the European Court of Justice today for breaching agreed air quality limits and failing to make improvements as quickly as possible.
The Guardian reports:
The European court of justice (ECJ) has the power to impose multimillion euro fines if the countries do not address the problem swiftly. The nations - the UK, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Romania - had been given a final warning by the European commission in January. Toxic air results in more than 400,000 early deaths across Europe each year.
Levels of nitrogen dioxide, mostly produced by diesel vehicles, have been illegally high since 2010 in the vast majority of urban areas in the UK. The government’s latest plan in 2017 was condemned as “woefully inadequate” by city leaders and “inexcusable” by doctors.
The World Health Organisation’s director of public health, Dr Maria Neira, said new urgency was need to tackle air pollution: “While air pollution knows no borders and puts everyone at risk, those most vulnerable – pregnant women, children, the elderly, those already ill or poor– are particularly affected.
”Air pollution from NO2 causes an estimated 23,500 early deaths every year in the UK. The UN’s special rapporteur on pollution said in September that the UK government was “flouting” its duty to protect the lives and health of its citizens. The problem was declared a public health emergency by a cross-party committee of MPs in 2016.