FTA calls on Government not to penalise van drivers further after High Court loss on pollution

Date: Thursday, November 03, 2016   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

The Freight Transport Association has asked the Government not to place what it calls “an unfair burden on the freight industry” when it details new approaches to improve air quality.

According to the FTA, current air quality measures are already pushing businesses to the breaking point, and any changes could price small businesses out of the market thanks to a lack of compliant vans.

The Government lost a High Court battle against environmental campaigners over pollution levels must now draw up more far-reaching plans to reduce emissions before next week.

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth took legal action following what it called "continuing failure to tackle the national air pollution crisis".

Presiding over the case, Mr Justice Garnham said the Government had failed to take steps to bring the UK into compliance with European pollution laws "as soon as possible".

Ministers now need to put in place new plans to reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution before returning to the High Court next week. If these measures are not deemed to be sufficient, timetables could be imposed by the judge.

But Christopher Snelling, FTA’s head of regional and national policy said: “If faster progress in commercial vehicle fleet renewal and a switch to alternative fuel is to be made, it will have to be on the basis of support from the Government.”

“But we can’t just consider commercial vehicles.  The regulations Defra is looking at may have to take a broader approach to road transport, not shying away from issues such as the contribution of cars just because it is unpopular with voters.”

ClientEarth previously won a case against the Government at the Supreme Court in April 2015.

"I am pleased that the judge agrees with us that the Government could and should be doing more to deal with air pollution and protecting people's health. That's why we went to court," said James Thornton, ClientEarth's chief executive. "The time for legal action is over. This is an urgent public health crisis of which the prime minister must take personal control."

"I challenge Theresa May to take immediate action now to deal with illegal levels of pollution and prevent tens of thousands of additional early deaths in the UK”.

Responding to the ruling, a statement from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the Government accepts the decision and it will "carefully consider this ruling, and our next steps, in detail".

"Improving air quality is a priority for this Government and we are determined to cut harmful emissions," the statement added.


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