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New UK air pollution figures reveal shocking lack of emission reduction progress

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 crisis.”  

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.”