Government’s failed air pollution cases cost taxpayers £500,000

According to a Freedom of Information release obtained by the Labour Party, the government has spent half a million pounds to fight legal battles

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The UK Government’s failed legal battles on air pollution has cost taxpayers more than half a million pounds.

That’s according to a Freedom of Information release obtained by the Labour Party.

It states the most recent case on the government’s plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide, which was found to be “unlawful”, incurred costs of £148,135 and was also ordered to pay environmental lawyers ClientEarth’s costs of up to £35,000.

In July last year, the government incurred costs of £60,582 for another case brought by ClientEarth and the one before in April totalled £14,796, in addition to the environmental lawyers’ costs of £11,000.

They are said to be in addition to £310,000 the government spent fighting such cases previously.

Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman MP said: “Despite the rhetoric from the government about their environmental credentials, the government’s dirty air plans have continually been ruled illegal by the courts. This Tory Government has had to be dragged through the courts every step of the way and have wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ money fighting losing cases instead of taking action.”

The government said it has already delivered “significant improvements” in air quality since 2010 and “it was right to defend our position in court”.

A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs added: “The judge dismissed two of the three complaints in the latest case and found that our approach to areas with major air quality problem is ‘sensible, rational and lawful’.

“We will continue to implement our £3.5 billion plan and work with local authorities to reduce emissions and improve air quality.”