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EU Commission launches legal action over UK air quality

HEAL welcomes the EU Commission’s recently launched legal proceedings against the UK for failing to deal with air pollution. Nitrogen dioxide, mainly from diesel engines can lead to major respiratory illnesses and premature deaths.

The UK was supposed to meet EU air standards by 2010, but the government announced that London will not achieve them until 2025.

These standards stem from the EU’s directive on ambient air quality, which came into force in 2008, and sets limits on the levels of air-borne contaminants, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.When EU restrictions were meant to be in place in 2010, levels of nitrogen dioxide were exceeding the limits in 40 of the UK’s 43 air quality zones.

Although EU member states were allowed to have five extra years to put in place plans to cut levels of NO2, the UK admitted that they would not meet the revised deadline of 2015 related to 16 zones, including London. Levels in other areas such as Greater Manchester and the West Midlands could be achieved by 2020. The EU announced these timelines are too long, and decided to launch the first case against an EU Member State for breaching the limit of nitrogen dioxide.

Originally posted on 6 March 2014

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


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