Labour MEPs: EU court referral on air pollution once again shows need for strongest environmental protections post-Brexit

Today’s announcement the UK will be referred to the European Court of Justice for its failure to tackle illegal levels of air pollution once again highlights the need for the strongest environmental protections aligned with European standards if Britain leaves the EU – and not the weakened, toothless regime proposed by the government, Labour MEPs warned.

Seb Dance MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on environment, said:

“The UK has consistently failed to comply with its legally-binding nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emission target since 2010, under successive Tory governments, and had it not been for our membership of the EU there would have been no recourse to hold them to account for these repeated, fatal failures.

“Today’s ruling follows the final warning issued in January and now means that the UK government must implement measures to bring down the deadly levels of air pollution – and is a warning to parliament not to accept the weak, toothless and substandard post-Brexit enforcement regime proposed by ministers. The Lords was absolutely right to vote for Labour’s amendment last night bolstering environmental protection after Brexit, and it is vital the Commons also backs it.”

Seb Dance MEP added:

“Tens of thousands of lives are being lost every year in Britain to pollution-related complications and estimates put the cost of pollution at £20 billion a year. Worryingly for British parents, more than 2,000 schools and nurseries are located within around 150 metres of an illegally polluted road.

“If the UK deregulates, diverges from and weakens EU environmental standards after Brexit, as the Tories propose, there will be more pollution, more ill health and more deaths. We cannot, must not and will not let this happen.”