The government has been ordered to create an improved plan within eight months to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis.
The High Court has given the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) until 24th April 2017 to produce a draft plan and 31st July to deliver a final one.
He rejected the government’s suggested timetable until September as “far too leisurely”.
The news comes after a ruling earlier this month that the government has failed to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK. It follows ClientEarth’s claims the UK’s predicted compliance date for clean air laws could be years out as its projections are based on “fantasy data”.
A total of 37 out of 43 zones in the UK are said to have illegal levels of air pollution.
According to estimates, air pollution in the UK cause more than 40,000 early deaths and at least £27.5 billion in costs every year.
The judge has granted ClientEarth permission to go back to court to challenge the plan at any point while it’s being written “if it’s not good enough”.
The environmental law firm said the news is “an important victory for clean air”.
CEO James Thornton added: “It is very clear that the government must now act swiftly and decisively to protect British people from toxic and illegal air pollution.
“The government has said throughout this process that it takes air pollution seriously. Until now, its actions have not lived up to this claim. Now is the time for the government to prove that it truly cares about people’s health and the environment and take decisive action to tackle illegal air pollution in this country.”
Defra said improving air quality “is a priority for this government” and it is determined to cut harmful emissions.
A spokesperson added: “Our plans have always followed the best available evidence – we have always been clear that we are ready to update them if necessary. We can now confirm a timetable for updating our plans next year and further improving the nation’s air quality.”