The Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) is disappointed that the Government has not met the High Court’s deadline to publish the consultation draft of its 2017 Air Quality Plan. In November, after a case was brought by the environmental law charity ClientEarth, the High Court ruled that the Government’s 2015 Air Quality Plan did not comply with the requirements of EU air quality regulations. The Court ordered the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to publish a draft modified Air Quality Plan (and associated technical information) that complies with these requirements by 4pm today (Monday 24th April 2017). The IAQM is disappointed that the Government has not met this deadline, and is again delaying action to tackle air pollution which is damaging public health in the UK’s towns and cities. The Government is now proposing to publish its draft plan after the General Election, on 30th June. Given the requirement, emphasised by Mr Justice Garnham when ruling on the case, for the Government to bring the UK into compliance with the law “as soon as possible”, this further delay is unacceptable. Dr Claire Holman, Chair of the IAQM said:
“The Government has known about this deadline for months and if they were serious about protecting public health they would have either published the plan before the election announcement, or delayed the announcement”.Questions will now inevitably be raised about whether this is a genuine delay, or whether this decision was made on political grounds because the suggested measures – for example, banning diesel cars in city centres – would be electorally unpopular. Whatever the outcome of the election on the 8th June, we hope the modified Air Quality Plan will address this public health crisis with the ambition and urgency required. The IAQM looks forward to contributing to the consultation on these plans in due course.