Letter of formal notice of legal proceedings is issued today by the European Commission to the UK for breach of the EU Directive on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air in Europe. Press Release.
The UK has two months to respond.
The EU Directive contains flexibility as regards the deadlines for returning air pollution to safe levels. Although the original deadline for meeting the limit values was 1 January 2010, extensions have been agreed with Member States which had a credible and workable plan for meeting air quality standards within five years of the original deadline, i.e. by January 2015. The UK has not presented any such plan for the zones in question.
The UK Supreme Court has already declared that air pollution limits are regularly exceeded in 16 zones across the UK. The areas affected are Greater London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Teesside, the Potteries, Hull, Southampton, Glasgow, the East, the South East, the East Midlands, Merseyside, Yorkshire & Humberside, the West Midlands, and the North East. The Court also noted that air quality improvement plans estimate that for London compliance with EU standards will only be achieved by 2025, fifteen years after the original deadline, and in 2020 for the other 15 zones.