Greens slam lack air pollution failures as Michael Gove is due before European Commission

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East, has slammed the Government’s ‘dereliction’ of duty as Michael Gove is due before the European Commission on Tuesday 30 January after being summoned over the UK’s repeated air pollution failures.

The UK is one of nine EU member states to have been summoned by the Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella for talks over their failures to comply with EU NO2 pollution limits.

The European Commission summons comes just days after Ministers were hauled before the UK High Court for the third time over their failure to produce a plan to clean up the UK’s toxic air.

Michael Gove is expected to dodge the summons and send a junior minister in his place.

Keith, a vocal air quality campaigner and a member of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, said:

“The EU has been forced to step up its action against a Tory Government that has been exposed, yet again, as failing in its duty to take even the most basic action to protect British citizens and combat an air pollution crisis linked to the needless deaths of more than 50,000 people every year.”

“The European Union is having to step up where the UK government has repeatedly failed. Although Ministers have been summoned before the European Commission over illegal air pollution breaches, their failure is as much moral as it is legal. The Tories continue to display an extremely concerning attitude of indifference towards their duty to safeguard the health of British citizens.”

“That it is the European Commission and environmental lawyers at ClientEarth that are having to hold to account this government for a public health crisis that costs the British public more than £20bn a year is a shameful indictment of the Conservatives’ irresponsible and deadly apathy.”

“Theresa May’s administration is failing to do the bare minimum, as required by EU laws the UK itself helped to set, to improve the quality of the air we all breathe. The bare minimum. Where embraced and enforced, EU air pollution limits are helping to prevent thousands of deaths every year and saving billions of pounds in direct health costs. This government readily acknowledges that it is EU law that has been the driver of positive air quality action in the UK. But the Prime Minister’s plans for an extreme Brexit puts those vital EU safeguards at risk.”

“The government must finally face up to its legal and moral responsibility for tackling Britain’s air quality crisis. Ministers must now be forced to make a firm commitment to urgently abide by and fully implement EU air quality laws. Theresa May must also heed the call to introduce a new Clean Air Act, supported by the overwhelming majority of British citizens, that will not only maintain but strengthen these vital EU protections post-Brexit.”