Responding to the news that the courts have ruled against the government in a vital legal challenge on air pollution, Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP, said:
Cycling UK today, celebrated ClientEarth’s victory and called on government to rebalance its investment in roads towards cycling and walking.The government has been exposed, yet again, as failing in its duty to take even the most basic action to combat an air pollution crisis that needlessly claims the lives of more than 50,000 people in Britain every year."The failure highlighted by the judge today is as much moral as it is legal; Ministers have displayed an extremely concerning attitude of indifference towards their duty to safeguard the health of British citizens."ClientEarth has worked tirelessly to hold to account this government for it's irresponsible and deadly apathy in the face of a public health crisis that costs the British public more than £20bn a year.Theresa May's administration is failing to do even the bare minimum, as required by EU laws the UK itself helped to set, to improve the quality of the air we all breathe. The bare minimum.Where embraced and enforced, EU air pollution limits are helping to prevent thousands of deaths every year. In fact, this government readily acknowledges that it is EU law that has been the driver of any positive air quality action in the UK. For the sake of the health and prosperity of the British people, we cannot risk scrapping these safeguards.The government must finally face up to its moral and legal responsibility for tackling Britain’s air quality crisis. Ministers must now be forced to make a firm commitment to maintaining and strengthening vital EU air quality laws.
The presiding judge, Mr Justice Garnham, ruled this morning that the government’s 2015 Air Quality Plan failed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling or relevant EU Directives.
ClientEarth’s legal challenge followed their previous 2015 victory in the Supreme Court, which ordered ministers to devise a plan to bring air pollution down within legal limits as soon as possible. ClientEarth took the government back to the High Court in a Judicial Review this November, deeming their plans as “poor”.
With road traffic widely recognised as one of the largest contributors to air pollution, Cycling UK wants the Government to rebalance its £15bn Road Investment Strategy towards non-polluting forms of transport such as cycling and walking, which are set to receive only £300m up till 2021 through the forthcoming Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.
Cycling UK has calculated this to mean that by 2020/21 the government’s investment in cycling and walking will have declined to just 72 pence per person (outside of London), compared to £84 per head for trunk roads and motorways.
Policy Director, Roger Geffen said:
Cycling UK hopes ClientEarth’s victory will act as a wake-up call to Government that it needs to stop dithering on dirty air, and address its root causes, such as motor traffic.
Government should rebalance its spending on roads towards its long awaited Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, which will fulfil its ambition to normalise cycling for shorter day to day journeys.