William Eichler 27 March 2019

Councils must finalise air quality plans or face legal action, lawyers say

Environmental campaigners have written to 38 local authorities warning them to finalise their air quality plans or face legal action.

The environmental law organisation ClientEarth said that it is concerned by a ‘slew of missed deadlines’ and ‘ineffective measures’ put forward by local authorities to tackle air pollution.

The charity added that the lack of ‘meaningful progress’ on the issue is proof of the Government’s flawed approach of passing the buck to councils.

‘We are extremely concerned, given the urgency of the situation, at the glacial progress of action from local authorities,’ said ClientEarth lawyer, Katie Nield.

‘Judging by what they are telling residents, many have missed Government deadlines to submit plans and some have consulted on potentially legally compliant action before scaling back proposals and delaying decisions.’

ClientEarth has written to Derby, which has failed to publish its final proposals six months after the original deadline set by ministers of 15 September last year.

The Government decided to extend Derby’s deadline to come up with proposals. Its final plans are now due on 26th March. However, the council’s website has no information on the status of the proposals or their content.

Many other authorities, including both Bristol and Manchester, are also yet to publish detailed proposals, months after the original 31 December deadline set by ministers for their final plans.

‘The courts have been clear that the UK Government is obliged to ensure plans are put in place as soon as can be, but instead ministers seem to be setting deadlines and simply watching them sail past,’ said Ms. Nield.

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