Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Commission gears up against air polluters, sends six countries to court

Britain taken to court by European Commission over air pollution EU to take six countries to the court over air quality standards
Sammy Stanley | 17 May, 2018, 21:58

The European Commission is taking Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Romania to the EU Court of Justice for failing to respect air quality limits.

A spokesman said: "We continue to meet European Union air quality limits for all pollutants apart from NO2, and data shows we are improving thanks to our efforts to bring levels of NO2 down".

The Court of Justice ruled on Thursday (22 February) that Poland has infringed air quality laws, urging Warsaw to comply "without delay" or face fines after finding that the country has regularly exceeded fine particle limits for years.

It is one of six countries being referred for air quality infringements.

'This long-overdue announcement shows governments they can not go on allowing citizens to be poisoned by toxic air, ' Brussels-based advocate Julia Poliscanova said. The citizens deserve to know what is being done to protect them from polluted air.

"We will shortly build on our £3.5 billion plan to tackle roadside emissions with a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy setting out a wide range of actions to reduce pollution from all sources". "It is simply not acceptable that over 40,000 lives are being cut short each year because the government is too timid to take the necessary action".

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"...data shows we are improving thanks to our efforts to bring levels of NO2 down", Defra has said.

In a statement sent to Post&Parcel, ClientEarth's CEO James Thornton said: "On top of our three successful cases, today's legal action from the European Commission is more damning evidence of the mountain the United Kingdom government still has to climb to bring air pollution to within legal limits".

Action against the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Spain has not been pursued as measures being put in place in each of the countries, "appear to be appropriate, if implemented" the Commission has claimed.

Back then, the countries received "final warnings" from the Commission and were given the opportunity to submit a set of "credible, timely and effective" measures to tackle the problem. But it shouldn't have taken so long. But Commissioner Vella emphasised that they are not "off the hook" and the Commission will be monitoring their implementation progress closely. "That is why we are outlining the type of practical help that the Commission can provide to national authorities in their efforts to promote cleaner air for European cities and towns", said Vella. The European Environment Agency said in October 2017 that fine particulate matter causes more than 400,000 premature deaths in the EU annually.

"European air quality laws are being broken on a continental scale", Tolotto said.

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