Coun­cils warned over dead­line on air pol­lu­tion

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Matthew Tay­lor

The govern­ment has writ­ten to two lo­cal coun­cils warn­ing them of “se­ri­ous con­se­quences” af­ter they failed to meet the dead­line for deal­ing with air pol­lu­tion.

Five lo­cal au­thor­i­ties with some of the worst pol­lu­tion out­side Lon­don – Derby, Southamp­ton, Leeds, Not­ting­ham and Birm­ing­ham – were or­dered to come up with pro­pos­als to tackle air pol­lu­tion in their ar­eas in 2015 and were given to­day as a dead­line.

But this week it emerged that two of the coun­cils – Derby and Southamp­ton – are set to miss the dead­line. Now the govern­ment has writ­ten to the Derby and Southamp­ton coun­cils stat­ing that they “must de­liver plans so that ni­tro­gen diox­ide com­pli­ance is achieved as quickly as pos­si­ble”, and warn­ing of “se­ri­ous con­se­quences” if they fail.

Thérèse Cof­fey, the en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, wrote to the two coun­cils ear­lier this week say­ing: “You will … wish to con­sider the risks of miss­ing the le­gal dead­line and the se­ri­ous as­so­ci­ated con­se­quences.”

She added: “I am very clear that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties must de­liver plans so that ni­tro­gen-diox­ide com­pli­ance is achieved as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Green­peace said that while it was cru­cial that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties helped tackle the UK’s air pol­lu­tion cri­sis, min­is­ters were in no po­si­tion to “shake their fists” at cash-strapped coun­cils.

“While it’s right that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are be­ing re­minded to play their part in tack­ling air pol­lu­tion, the govern­ment’s mes­sage would carry far more weight if min­is­ters had prac­tised what they’re preach­ing.

“In­stead, they failed to rein in il­le­gal air pol­lu­tion for years … and are still de­lay­ing the mea­sures we need to clean up our air.”

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