According to the Government, there are 1,347 deaths a year attributed to air pollution in Greater Manchester.

Now in a ruling this morning, the Supreme Court has quashed the Government’s plans to cut illegal levels of air pollution in Britain and ordered it to deliver new ones by the end of the year. 

The Supreme Court Justices were unanimous in their decision, saying: “The new Government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.”

The historic ruling is the culmination of a five year legal battle fought by ClientEarth for the right of British people to breathe clean air. 

The ruling will save thousands of lives a year by forcing the Government to urgently clean up pollution from diesel vehicles, the main source of the illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide found in many of the UK’s towns and cities.

Commenting on the ruling Manchester’s Friends of the Earth’s sustainable transport campaiger Pete Abel said: 

“Air pollution kills tens of thousands of people prematurely each year in the UK, and puts extra strain on our beleaguered NHS. The Government has now been instructed by the Supreme Court to come up with an urgent action plan to stop people choking on dirty air and end this national disgrace.” adding 

“It’s time to tackle the main cause of this pollution, which is too much dirty traffic, by encouraging cleaner vehicles and getting more people on to bikes, buses, trains.” 

In May 2013, Client Earth won a legal challenge at the Supreme Court which confirmed that the UK Government is in breach of the EU Air Quality Directive leaving the UK open to enforcement action at the national or European level.

The UK had failed to meet the 2015 air quality deadline and it was acknowledged that most urban regions and cities, including Manchester would not comply with the EU Air QualityDirective until 2020. 

Greater Manchester’s own modeling work paints a similar picture of exceedences beyond 2020 in some areas. In Manchester, the Public Health England website indicates that 5.1% of all adult deaths each year are caused by particulate air pollution.

Manchester Friends of the Earth have been involved in a ‘citizen science’ project with the assistance of the Network for Clean Air   monitoring the Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels in four areas,  Rusholme, Fallowfield, Stockport (St Mary’s Way) and Bradford ward. The monitoring data from the project is available on the Manchester Friends of the Earth website. 


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