Stephen Tromans QC and Rose Grogan represented the Mayor of London, an interested party, in the recent challenge brought by ClientEarth to the government’s National Air Quality Plan. This was the second challenge to the government’s Air Quality strategy, and followed the decision of the Supreme Court in ClientEarth No 1  UKSC 28.
ClientEarth’s case was that the government had acted unlawfully by failing to reduce toxic Nitrogen Dioxide concentrations in as short a period as possible. The Mayor intervened to argue that the London element of the Air Quality Plan was not ambitious enough and that more could be done to achieve compliance and reduce exposure before 2025 (the date the government selected for compliance in London).
Giving judgment today, Mr Justice Garnham held that the government had breached article 23 of the EU Air Quality Directive by arbitrarily setting the date for achieving legal limits of Nitrogen Dioxide as 2020 (2025 for London) and by using overly optimistic emissions data. He also held that it was implicit in the Directive that achieving compliance as soon as possible also required the government to reduce exposure as quickly as possible. The government will now have to draw up a new Air Quality Plan which, in light of updated emissions data, is likely to involve more extensive measures in a greater number of cities.