UK’s clean air drive undermined by Brexit, campaigners say

(EurActiv, 15 Jan 2019) Britain’s latest clean air strategy sets significantly tighter air pollution limits than the EU’s, but could lack the regulatory teeth to enforce them after Brexit. EURACTIV’s media partner Climate Home News reports.

In the strategy released on Monday (14 January), the UK government sought to show how it will realise the “Green Brexit” championed by the prominent Leave supporter and environment secretary Michael Gove.

“We will be able to set out a new direction for our environment, based on rigorous scientific research and underpinned by the legal principles that have done so much to improve our environment in the past,” Gove said in an introduction to the clean air strategy. “It is my profound hope that we will use the opportunity presented by leaving the EU to become a world leader in environmental excellence.”

Campaigners welcomed the air pollution limits set out in the strategy, but criticised the government for not giving enough details on how and when it will meet the limits. The question is if and how London will be held accountable without the European Union looking on, they say.

“Under EU law, we have an air quality directive that, as a member state of the EU, we’re expected to meet. Once we’re out of the EU, there will be no air quality directive or legislative framework that at the moment provides checks and balances,” said Jason Torrance, clean air cities director at the UK100, a network of local governments promoting clean energy.

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EurActiv, 15 Jan 2019: UK’s clean air drive undermined by Brexit, campaigners say