The Supreme Court has ordered the UK Government to draw up new air pollution plans by 31 December 2015 in the culmination of a legal battle brought by environmental campaigners against the Government for breaking air quality laws. Glasgow was specifically named as one of the places where healthy air standards are not being met.

Summary of the Supreme Court’s key findings:

– UK failed to comply with legal air quality limits on Nitrogen Dioxide by a 2010 deadline in 16 cities including Glasgow;
– The Supreme Court ordered “immediate action”;
– UK Government is required to implement a concrete, robust air quality action plan, following set criteria contained in European Law;
– The plan must be produced by a deadline of 31 December 2015.

This is the final verdict in a 5-year legal battle which has seen ClientEarth sue the Government for failing in its legal duty to protect the public from the health hazards of air pollution.

Friends of the Earth Scotland has supported the points made by ClientEarth in the case. Friends of the Earth Scotland revealed that legal air limits are failing to be met in towns and cities across Scotland in January.

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said,

“This is a huge victory in the fight for clean air. Today’s ruling marks the climax in a 5-year legal battle where the UK and Scottish Governments have been shamefully caught trying to shirk their responsibilities. Their lack of action to tackle air pollution has cost thousands of lives. The Supreme Court’s verdict compels them to act immediately.

“The Scottish Government has been exposed by the highest court for breaking its air quality obligations in Glasgow, resulting in devastating harm to public health. Traffic-related air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks, and strokes, and is a major cause of lung cancer. Children who endure high levels of air pollution will suffer the health consequences throughout the rest of their lives.

“This is a crucial ruling for Scotland because there is a new Low Emission Strategy out for consultation about how Scotland will meet its air quality obligations, but that plan is incomplete and unclear. The Scottish Government must heed the ruling and amend its air quality plans. To protect the public from air pollution, the Scottish Government must commit to keeping the most polluting vehicles out of city centres through introducing Low Emission Zones in major cities by 2018.”


Notes to editors:


[1] Supreme Court Judges handed down the judgment just after 10 a.m. this morning. The full judgment can be found at https://www.supremecourt.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2012_0179_Judgment.pdf. ClientEarth’s Press Release can be found at http://www.clientearth.org/news/latest-news/uk-supreme-court-orders-gove…

[2] In January 2015, Friends of the Earth Scotland revealed the streets in Scotland that are consistently breaking air pollution safety standards:http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/air-pollution-streets-2014

[3] Air pollution is a cause of:
– Lung and respiratory conditions, including asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and lung cancer: http://www.iarc.fr/en/publications/books/sp161/index.php

– Heart and cardiovascular conditions, including heart attacks, strokes, unstable angina and heart failure
– Over 2000 early deaths in Scotland every year:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/estimating-local-mortality-burdens-associated-with-particulate-air-pollution . (see Table 3 for Scottish figures)

-Effect of air pollution on young people. World Health Organisation, “Children’s Environmental Health: Air Pollution” http://www.who.int/ceh/risks/cehair/en/

[4] The Scottish Government’s Low Emission Strategy Consultation can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/01/3287

Friends of the Earth Scotland is running an online action calling on people to respond to the consultation, http://act.foe-scotland.org.uk/lobby/Low-Emission-Strategy

[5] Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

· Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 74 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups. www.foe-scotland.org.uk