HIGH COURT ORDERS UK GOVERNMENT TO EXPLAIN CLEAN AIR PLAN DELAY

London, -The government has been ordered back to the high court to explain its last-minute bid to delay publication of the UK’s clean air plan.

Politicians and environmental groups had complained that ministers were “hiding behind the election” after they said they could not publish the proposals because of election purdah.

The high court said on Tuesday that there would be a new hearing on Thursday where ministers will have to defend their application,Guardian reported .

James Thornton, CEO of the environmental lawyers ClientEarth, who brought the original case against the government, said they would present their response at the hearing on Thursday.

“This is a public health issue and not a political issue. Urgent action is required to protect people’s health from the illegal and poisonous air that we are forced to breathe in the UK.

“This is a matter for the court to decide once the government has made its arguments because it is the government which has not met, and instead seeks to extend, the court’s deadline for the clean air plan, to clean up our air.” Ministers had been under a court direction to produce tougher draft measures to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution, which is largely caused by diesel traffic, by 4pm on Monday. The original plans had been dismissed by judges as so poor as to be unlawful.

But after the announcement by Theresa May of a general election on 8 June, ministers lodged a lengthy application to the court late on Friday. It asked judges to allow them to breach the Monday deadline to “comply with pre-election propriety rules”.

Politicians and environmental groups reacted with anger, claiming ministers were “hiding behind the election” to justify delaying publication of the government’s long awaited proposals instead of tackling the UK’s air pollution crisis.

Health experts warned the lack of government action had potentially put thousands of lives at risk.(QNA)

Source: Qatar News Agency

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