The Supreme Court today ruled that the UK Government is failing in its legal duty to protect Brummies from the harmful effects of air pollution.
The case, brought by environmental lawyers Client Earth, concerns 16 cities and regions including London, Birmingham and Manchester, which government plans show will be suffering from illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide until as late as 2020 or 2025.
The landmark decision is a departure from the judgements of the lower courts and paves the way for the European Commission to take legal action against the UK. This is a significant judgement and backs up what campaigners, such as BFoE and national Friends of the Earth‘s London campaigner Jenny Bates, have been saying about air quality.
The level of air pollution in UK cities is scandalous and illegal, and Birmingham is no exception. Furthermore we know that legal limits are being breached despite the fact that not enough monitoring is being done in the Birmingham.
Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK, which is more than obesity and alcohol combined. Air pollution causes heart attacks, strokes, respiratory disease and children living near busy roads have been shown to grow up with underdeveloped lungs.
BFoE is clear the UK government should be taking this problem seriously, instead of trying to get out of its legal obligations. But we also know that a lot of the solutions can be implemented on a local level.
From our work on our new local campaign, Let’s Get Moving, we know that traffic is by far the biggest cause of air pollution, and Birmingham City Council could be doing a lot more on this issue by making it easier for Brummies to leave the car at home and cycle around the city.
Hopefully the city’s plans in the Birmingham Cycle Revolution will be a step towards making Birmingham a more cycle friendly city.