Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ordered the UK on Thursday to comply with air pollution rules, stressing that the country had breached EU limits for years, Reuters reports.
While the UK left the EU at the end of 2020, the country agreed to apply ECJ rulings in cases started while it was still part of the bloc. This leaves open the possibility that the ECJ could fine the UK after the breakup.
The ECJ pointed out in its first ruling against the UK since Brexit that the country “systematically and persistently” violated EU rules on air pollution, stressing that it was in breach of the bloc’s NO2 limits in 16 areas between 2010 and 2017.
It added that the UK failed to implement measures aimed at keeping pollution limit breaches as short as possible.
The Court ordered Britain to bring NO2 pollution levels below the bloc’s limit, stressing that failure to comply could result in further legal action by the European Commission.
UK considering the ruling
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs indicated it was considering the ruling. An unnamed spokesperson pointed out that “air pollution at a national level has reduced significantly since 2010, and now we are out of the EU we are continuing to deliver our £3.8 billion air quality plan”.
Since road transport is the main contributor to NO2 pollution, the UK plans to ban the sale of new automobiles and vans with internal combustion engines in 2030, the aim being to curb pollution and to align with environmental protection goals.
London also has announced plans to expand its low-emission zone this year, where vehicles must adhere to strict emissions standards or pay daily fines.Studies show that prolonged exposure to polluted air can cause a number of health conditions, including cancer, diabetes and lung disease.