New UK air pollution figures reveal shocking lack of emission reduction progress
New official air pollution figures reveal the government has
failed to make any progress in bringing down the number of illegally polluted
regions across the UK in the 18 months after a court ordered ministers to do so,
it is claimed.
The new statistics, which were submitted by the
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the European
Commission, show that at the end of 2016, the UK still had the same number of
zones with illegal air pollution as 2015, despite being under a Supreme Court
order at the time to bring it down as soon as possible. In total, 37 out of 43
zones were in breach of pollution limits.
Shockingly, said campaign group ClientEarth, some areas
had actually seen air pollution rise over the past four years - Bristol,
Portsmouth and Teeside for example.
The figures, which were the latest available from the
government, made grim reading for ministers, said ClientEarth, who were ordered
to produce a plan to bring down air pollution for a second time by the High
Court in November last year.
In July, the government produced its second court ordered
plan, which ClientEarth said at the time was not strong enough to reduce air
pollution as soon as possible.
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “These are statistics
the government would rather you didn’t see. They show how ministers are failing
to protect people from air pollution which is blighting the lives of thousands
of people across the country.
“We’re deeply saddened to see how little progress was
made last year and we will keep up the pressure to tackle this public health
The pollutant in question was nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
which in towns and cities, where it was at illegal levels, came mostly from
diesel vehicles, said ClientEarth.
Mr Thornton added: “We need a national network of clean
air zones to clean up the air as quickly as possible. Thousands of people
bought diesel vehicles in good faith and have been sorely let down by car
makers and the government. They should take responsibility and help people move
to cleaner forms of transport.”