Air quality targets will not be enforceable


Financial Times, 19 June 2018:

The letter from the UK roads minister Jesse Norman needs to be seen in context (“New regulations will drive emissions cheats off road”, June 8). Without the EU threatening legal action, would there have been any appetite in government to fine car manufacturers £50,000 per vehicle fitted with a defeat device? And why does this apply only to new cars? In the US, Volkswagen was fined $30,000 for every vehicle on the road, and VW personnel are subject to criminal prosecution.

There is of course a further dimension to this catalogue of failure. Following Brexit, the EU air quality directive will no longer apply. It will be replaced by a new environmental watchdog, but the proposal from environment secretary Michael Gove makes it clear that the air quality targets will not be legally enforceable. So the statutory body can issue advisory notices about poor air quality in central London, or unacceptable levels of pollution at Heathrow, but the government will be immune from prosecution.

Brexiters will claim a victory for the free market, but for everyone else it will be a defeat.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Former Chair, Campaign for Lead Free Air,
Marlow, Bucks, UK

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