“The European Commission is pursuing legal action against the UK for failing to comply with EU air quality standards for dangerous airborne particles known as PM10. These particles emitted mainly by industry, traffic and domestic heating, may have negative effects on health leading to asthma, cardiovascular problems, lung cancer and premature death. A second and final written warning has been sent to the UK for still exceeding the limit values for PM10 in a number of zones.”
“First warning letters were sent at the beginning of 2009 to Member States that had not by then submitted notifications for time extensions or had not notified the Commission about all air quality zones exceeding the limit values for PM10. As a result, most Member States involved submitted notifications for a time extension.
The UK submitted an exemption request for eight zones including the Greater London Urban Area. However, the Commission did not consider the exemption justified, as seven out of the eight zones already complied with the limit values. For the Greater London Urban Area, the Commission considered that the UK had not shown that compliance with the daily PM10 limit value would be achieved by the time the exemption period expired in 2011. The UK has recently sent a further exemption request for Greater London, which is still under assessment. However, given that zones still exceed the PM10 limit values, the Commission is sending the UK a final warning. If the UK fails to take the necessary measures to comply with the legislation, the Commission could refer the case to the European Court of Justice.”
The UK government has just weeks to convince EU officials that it will meet European clean air standards in London, if it is to avoid a court case. The European Commission is assessing UK data for London and will decide in a month’s time whether to give the UK an extension until mid-June to comply. Last June the Commission gave the UK a “final warning” over air pollution in Greater London and Gibraltar.