The United Kingdom’s highest court has ordered its government to take quick action to cut air pollution.
The court ruled unanimously that the UK has failed in its duty to meet European Union regulations regarding limits of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant from diesel engines that causes respiratory illnesses, BBC News reported.
The five-judge court said that the UK government has missed nitrogen dioxide targets for five years “must prepare and consult on new air quality plans for submission to the European Commission ... no later than December 31 2015,” according to BBC.
The UK is holding an election May 7 that will bring in a new government, whose leaders will have to quickly draw up a pollution plan. “The new government should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action,” the court said, according to Bloomberg News.
Alan Andrews, a lawyer with ClientEarth, said air pollution kills tens of thousands of Britons each year. “This ruling will benefit everyone’s health but particularly children, older people and those with existing health conditions like asthma and heart and lung conditions,” he said in a statement.
The UK’s government said in July that, under the plans of the time, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield are not likely to reach pollution targets until 2025, and London, Birmingham and Leeds might take until 2030 or later.