UN slams UK Government over air pollution ‘plague’

A UN official has accused the UK Government of “flouting” its duty to protect people from toxic air pollution. Baskut Tuncak, UN rapporteur for human rights and hazardous substances and […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A UN official has accused the UK Government of “flouting” its duty to protect people from toxic air pollution.

Baskut Tuncak, UN rapporteur for human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, told the Guardian that children and older people with pre-existing health conditions are at “grave risk of mortality, morbidity and disability”.

Air pollution causes an estimated 40,000 early deaths in Britain every year and was declared a “public health emergency” by MPs in 2016.

Mr Tuncak said: “Air pollution continues to plague the UK. I am alarmed that despite repeated judicial instruction, the UK Government continues to flout its duty to ensure adequate and air quality and protect the rights to life and health of its citizens. It has violated its obligations.”

Last year the EU Commission issued a final warning to the UK over air pollution and London’s toxic air breached legal limits for the whole year just five days into 2017.

A government spokesperson said EU policies, from the Common Agriculture Policy to vehicle emissions test, have damaged the environment.

She added: “Our £3 billion air quality plan will address the dirty air caused by the EU’s failed testing regime and in ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, the UK is more ambitious than most EU member states, including Germany.

“We now have an opportunity to deliver a green Brexit, ensuring the UK is a global leader in environmental protection.”