Persistent air pollution in UK causes EC to take action
As the UK has not managed to cut its excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a toxic gas which can cause respiratory illnesses and premature deaths, the European Commission has launched legal action. Under the Directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air in Europe the original deadline for Member States to comply with limit values for nitrogen dioxide was 1 January 2010. Whereas it is possible to postpone this deadline until 2015 at the latest, the UK has failed to meet the condition of presenting an air quality improvement plan for the zones that are lagging behind. However, the UK Supreme Court has already admitted that air pollution limits are continuously exceeded in 16 zones across the UK, including Greater London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Southampton and Glasgow. Air pollution in large cities, especially London, is particularly bad as NO2 is to a large extent emitted by road vehicles. The UK has now two months to respond to the legal proceedings launched by the Commission.