Using the law
The laws governing air quality have gained attention recently due to ClientEarth’s ground-breaking legal case against the UK Government. The case, which you can read about here, led to the UK Supreme Court ordering the Government to develop much more ambitious plans to reduce NO2 (nitrogen dioxide – a nasty pollutant that mainly comes from diesel vehicles).
Lawyers from ClientEarth have been working on this legal case for many years. Using the law to protect human health or the environment can take alot of time and there is no guarantee of success or of any progress at all.
But the Supreme Court judgment in April 2015 was a great victory and should have a number of consequences for the future.
Does the ClientEarth ruling affect your area?
The ruling from the UK Supreme Court means the Government need to come up with plans to reduce nitrogen dioxide across the country.
While there were 16 areas listed in ClientEarth’s case, there are 38 areas where nitrogen dioxide limits are projected to be in breach until after 2020. As nitrogen dioxide primarily comes from diesel vehicles, the Government will need to reduce the most polluting traffic in our urban areas. The measures should ultimately improve air quality across the UK. If you are working on a campaign to improve traffic, make sure the decision makers involved are aware of the implications of the judgement.
Can we help you with your legal case?
ClientEarth and the Healthy Air Campaign are both very small organisations and can’t provide legal assistance directly. However, there are a number of tools you may find helpful.
- The Clean Air Handbook is a resource produced by ClientEarth detailing the legal framework that citizens can use to obtain justice on air quality.
- The government’s UK Air site and Defra’s 2013 ‘Air pollution in the UK’ report record the different pollutants that are bound by legal limits.
- This resource will tell you if you live in an area of Air Quality Management.
- The UK Emissions Interactive Map can show you the levels of different pollutants in your area.
- We can also help spread the word about your campaigning and the issues in your area. Email us or contact us on twitter.