Government Must Start Taking Air Quality Seriously

22 February 2018, Ross Matthewman

Following the news that the Government has been defeated in court for a third time on its inadequate plans to tackle the air quality crisis in the UK, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), has demanded that the Government gets a grip and starts taking the issue seriously.

Yesterday, the High Court ruled against the Government for again failing to produce an adequate plan to tackle the growing problem of air pollution, in a landmark judgment that has forced ministers back to the drawing board.

Previous plans had already been deemed illegal by courts for failing to adequately tackle air pollution in the UK and bring it in line with EU air quality standards.

Client Earth, the organisation that has consistently pursued this issue and brought the Government to court for a third time, claimed that the ruling effectively allows them to bring the matter straight back to court without delay if the Government continues to fall short of its duties.

In short, this means the courts will have the powers to pass judgment on whether the government’s actions meet its obligations on air pollution under UK and EU law.

CIEH Head of Policy, Tony Lewis, said:

"The Government’s approach to the important issue of air quality in our country has been nothing short of exasperating. Their previous attempts to formulate plans to tackle this crisis have been half-baked and wholly inadequate.

It is about time that they get a grip and start taking air quality seriously.

We need to ask where we would be if Client Earth had not been able to bring this to court and hold the Government’s feet to the fire.

This ruling is very welcome and highlights the growing anger at a refusal to properly address the situation. Giving the courts greater oversight of plans for air quality is a necessary measure as the Government has so far proven that it cannot be left to its own devices on this."


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About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):   

CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing more than 8,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved. 

Environmental health has an important and unique contribution to make to improving public health and reducing health inequalities. CIEH campaigns to ensure that government policy addresses the needs of communities and business in achieving and maintaining improvements to health and health protection.  

For more information visit and follow the CIEH on Twitter.