Britain failing to protect people from effects of air pollution – UK Supreme Court

The UK Supreme Court ruled on 1 May that Britain has failed in its legal duty to protect people from the harmful effects of air pollution, opening the way for the European Commission to take infringement action against Britain.  This could require cities such as Dundee to introduce restrictions on traffic and “low emissions” zones in areas currently exceeding the limits.  (These points taken from this article in the Guardian newspaper, 2 May 2013).

Against this background, it would be irresponsible for Dundee Council or the Scottish Government to accept the assurances of Forth Energy at face value.  Any development which could add to the existing dangerous levels of air pollution should not be allowed to take place.

The Addendum submitted by Forth Energy with its application for the “Renewable Energy Plant” in Dundee uses an unconventional model to calculate levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide, in order to come up with figures which help the developer’s case for the plant.  The approach recommended by the UK’s Environment Agency produces findings which are more than twice as high as Forth Energy’s results.  The Addendum also fails to assess levels of other pollutants including fine particulates which are emitted by diesel engines and other combustion processes.  These can get into the bloodstream and cause severe circulatory and heart problems.

Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK and is linked to heart and respiratory diseases, including asthma (from the Guardian report).