air-pollution-hearts_15311In a recent landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice has confirmed that we have a right to breathe clean air and that the UK is breaching this right.

Last year, environmental law campaigners ClientEarth sued the UK Government for failing to meet clean air limits for a 2010 European deadline. EU law requires member states which failed to meet air quality limits by the 2010 deadline to draw up plans to achieve the limits in the “shortest time possible.” But under the plans submitted to Europe, compliance is not expected until 2020 and 2025 in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The UK Supreme Court found the UK Government to be in breach of EU Law but referred the case on to the Court of Justice of the European Union, seeking further guidance on a number of issues, including whether the UK was allowed an extension to the original deadline. The Supreme Court has confirmed that Member States were obliged to meet the 2010 deadline and that the maximum extension to the deadline was for five years.

The case will now return to UK for Supreme Court judges to apply the European ruling to the facts in the UK case.

Emilia Hanna, Air Pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said,

“Today’s ruling from the European Court clarifies that governments are under a strict obligation not to exceed air pollution limits and that the 2010 deadline can only be exceeded by a maximum of five years. But we know that in Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh are not expected to achieve compliance before 2025 and 2020. This ruling sends a strong signal to the Scottish Government to produce a fully funded, robust Low Emission Strategy as soon as possible.”