Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Britain taken to court by European Commission over air pollution

Congestion on the M25. London’s levels of nitrogen dioxide which is produced by diesel vehicles were more than twice the EU limit Congestion on the M25. London’s levels of nitrogen dioxide which is produced by diesel vehicles were more than twice the EU limitTIM GRAHAM GETTY
Ellis Copeland | 17 May, 2018, 22:00

The European Commission says it will refer the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the European Union for its failure to address air pollution.

The EU introduced limits for particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in 2010.

The European court of justice (ECJ) has the power to impose multimillion euro fines if the countries do not address the problem swiftly.

"The UK needs a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st Century and targeted action, like scrappage schemes and clean air zones which keep the dirtiest vehicles out of our most polluted towns and cities".

The EU is suing six of its member states for not doing enough to prevent their citizens from being "poisoned by toxic air".

"The current plans by the Government to enforce these kind of rules are simply not up to the task - and they clearly need an urgent rethink to ensure environmental protection isn't sacrificed as we hurtle towards Brexit".

'We will shortly build on our £3.5bn plan to tackle roadside emissions with a comprehensive clean air strategy'.

"Addressing the UK's toxic air should be more than just a box-ticking exercise. It is simply not acceptable that over 40,000 lives are being cut short each year because the government is too timid to take the necessary action".

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Whilst the states had proposed additional measures following these warnings, Vella said the EU Commission had to conclude that "the additional measures proposed are not sufficient to comply with air quality standards as soon as possible".

Spain, Slovakia and the Czech Republic avoided court by promising measures that would allow them to live up to European Union air quality rules, Vella said. Action is also being taken against France, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Romania.

"...data shows we are improving thanks to our efforts to bring levels of NO2 down", Defra has said.

Back then, the countries received "final warnings" from the Commission and were given the opportunity to submit a set of "credible, timely and effective" measures to tackle the problem. But it shouldn't have taken so long.

EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella said Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary and Romania had failed to comply with EU air quality standards.

"It is disappointing that not all nine countries called in for a meeting with the Commission in January have been referred today". But ministers refused to make them compulsory, instead making them a voluntary and last-resort option for local authorities.

The European Commission's analysis of clean air measures adopted at national level are at a "very advanced stage", said Daniel Calleja Y Crespo, who recently came to Slovakia for the Clean Air Dialogue.

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