A brief timeline of the major events that led to the latest Air Quality Plan – and what’s to come as a result
The publication of the Government’s new Air Quality Plan last week marked the latest step in the fight to combat air pollution across the UK. The road to this milestone has been a long and winding one, involving two previous Air Quality Plans and multiple court cases. And this journey still has much further to go, involving various consultations and reviews, the development of local clean air plans and, perhaps, even more court cases.
To help keep it all straight, here is a brief timeline of the major events that led to the latest Air Quality Plan – and what’s to come as a result of it.
11 June 2010: The Air Quality Standards Regulations come into effect, writing EU pollution limits into British law and placing a legal obligation on the Environment Secretary to introduce Air Quality Plans if those limits are breached.
9 July 2011: The Government publishes the draft of its first Air Quality Plan, under which certain areas would not see pollution fall below legal limits until 2020-2025. (The final version of this Plan will be published in September.)
28 July 2011: ClientEarth launches a legal case against the Government, arguing that the Plan would not bring pollution down quickly enough. (The High Court will side with the Government in December, but ClientEarth will appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.)
29 April 2015: After referring the case to the European Court of Justice, the Supreme Court rules in favour of ClientEarth and ordered the Government to publish a new Air Quality Plan by the end of 2015.
17 December 2015: The Government publishes a second Air Quality Plan, but this still projects that pollution in nine areas of the country would not fall below the limits by 2020. (This Plan will also be challenged by ClientEarth in the courts.)
2 November 2016: The High Court sides with ClientEarth, ruling that the second Air Quality Plan would still not be sufficient to meet air quality targets quickly enough.
21 November 2016: Following the judgment, Mr Justice Garnham orders the Government to publish a new draft Air Quality Plan by 24 April 2017, and the final version by 31 July.
24 April 2017: The Government does not meet the deadline to publish the draft of its new Air Quality Plan. Instead, the Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, tells Parliament that the Government has applied to the High Court for an extension, in light of the snap General Election. It wants to delay the draft until 30 June, and the final version until 15 September.
27 April 2017: The High Court refuses the Government’s application – allowing it only until 9 May to publish the draft Plan, and ordering it to keep to the original 31 July deadline for the final version.
5 May 2017: The Government publishes the draft of its new Air Quality Plan, along with a framework for setting up Clean Air Zones in England.
5 May – 15 June 2017: The Government holds a public consultation on the draft Plan.
26 July 2017: The Government publishes the final version of its new Air Quality Plan, five days before the legal deadline.
26 July – 18 October 2017: The Government holds a public consultation on proposed regulatory changes designed to encourage the uptake alternatively-fuelled vans.
September 2017: More stringent ‘Real Driving Emissions’ tests for new vehicles come into force.
Autumn 2017: The Government launches a consultation on measures to alleviate the effects of clean air policies on motorists, particularly those on low incomes.
Autumn 2017: The Chancellor presents his Autumn Budget, possibly including tax rises for diesel vehicles.
31 March 2018: The deadline for local authorities to publish drafts of their plans to tackle air pollution, including the introduction of Clean Air Zones.
31 December 2018: The deadline for local authorities to publish the final versions of their clean air plans.
2040: The Government will end the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars (excluding hybrids) by this date.
We hope this timeline is a useful guide to the developments so far, and what to expect next. For more detail on the Air Quality Plan and other efforts to tackle air pollution, please download Northgate Vehicle Hire’s new guide by filling in a few details below: