A new government air pollution plan has revealed air pollution in eight local authorities is at dangerous levels.
The new plan, which must show how the government will address illegal levels of air pollution in 33 local authority areas in England, revealed that eight of them have far worse levels of illegal air pollution than government figures previously suggested.
The local authorities are Portsmouth City Council, Liverpool City Council, Leicester City Council, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Bolsover District Council, Broxbourne Borough Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
ClientEarth, which brought the successful legal case against the government which forced them to produce the plan, said the revelation showed how the government’s policy of ‘passing the buck’ to local authorities had failed.
ClientEarth clean air lawyer Katie Nield said: ‘Today’s pitiful plan shows that the government’s strategy to tackle air pollution by passing the buck to local authorities is in tatters. It’s essential that the government takes action on a national scale.
‘Amazingly, ministers have now ordered more plans, which means more delays. It shows a shocking lack of leadership on a key public health issue.
She added: ‘It’s absolutely staggering that only now, eight years after legal limits came into force, the true extent of the problem is being uncovered for large areas of the country. In the meantime, people in these areas have continued to be exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution.’
Legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) came into force in 2010 and NO2 is a harmful gas that in urban areas with illegal levels comes mostly from diesel vehicles. ClientEarth has won three legal cases against the UK Government for failing to tackle the problem.
The plans ordered by the government for failing councils includes the retrofitting of approximately 400 buses with technology to reduce emissions, traffic management measures such as adjustments to signalling to reduce congestion and behavioural change campaigns to encourage individuals to take action and reduce their contribution to air pollution.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: ‘While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, we know urgent action is still required to tackle roadside air pollution in our towns and cities.
‘This is why through our £3.5bn national air quality plan, we are working with local authorities across the UK and I am pleased ten local authorities will now implement new measures to drive down pollution.’
Of the 33 local authorities, eighteen are already operating within legal limits.