Highways England's inaction on air pollution 'unlawful'

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have warned that Highways England’s lack of committed plans to tackle air pollution on its roads is unlawful.

Client Earth has written to the the Department for Transport and Defra calling for ministers to direct Highways England to come up with a concrete, time-bound plan as soon as possible.

The government only assesses pollution on a fraction of roads managed by the company, but of those that are the latest figures show that over a third have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Some are more than 1.5 times over the limit.

ClientEarth points out that Highways England has failed to spend more than a fraction of the £100million funding it has been allocated to reduce air pollution.

In its legal letter to the government, ClientEarth says: “Whilst successive government plans have alluded to work being done to identify solutions, neither central government nor Highways England have yet set out what measures they are committed to put in place, or when they will take effect, in order to tackle the problem in the shortest possible time. Over eight years after legal limits came into force, a legally compliant plan to address continued exceedances on the [Strategic Road Network] is still lacking.”

It concludes by calling for ministers to direct Highways England to produce a legally-compliant plan with concrete, time-bound proposals as soon as possible.

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