My post on action taken by the European Commission for breach of European laws on Air Quality is here.
On 10 July 2014, ClientEarth’s case against the UK Government for breaching air quality limits was heard by the court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. ClientEarth and European Commission lawyers told EU judges UK Government plans will not meet nitrogen dioxide limits in London, Birmingham and Leeds until after 2030. This is 20 years after the original legal deadline and five years later than previously admitted. The information was made publically available by Defra the day before.
European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment from 19 November 2014 is binding on the UK courts and the national courts in all 28 EU member states. The ECJ highlighted, that limit values for NO2 has to be met since 1 January 2010, if the Member States didn’t apply for a time extension for five years. Member States are obliged to develop an air quality plan, containing effective measures to keep the time of non-compliance as short as possible. The decision indicates that national courts have to demand for any necessary measure from the national authority.
Further information is here.
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.