Supreme Court air quality ruling is a wake-up call on the Silvertown Tunnel

The Supreme Court, 29 April 2015

This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that the UK government must take immediate steps to cut air pollution.

This ruling has implications for politicians at all levels. It forces the government to urgently clean up pollution from diesel vehicles, the main source of the illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide found in our cities.

More than 4,000 Londoners are thought to die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution.

The case was brought by environmental lawyers Client Earth, who pursued the government for five years through UK and European courts.

Announcing the decision, Lord Carnwath said: “The new government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.”

No to Silvertown Tunnel is campaigning against the construction of a new road tunnel under the Thames between the Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks.

The Silvertown Tunnel – proposed by Transport for London and supported by neighbouring Greenwich and Newham councils – would increase traffic on already-congested roads, making already-intolerable congestion worse.

The campaign’s Darryl Chamberlain was at the Supreme Court this morning to hear the judgment read out.

He says:

“This judgment is a wake-up call for politicians at all levels, from possible Prime Ministers to our local councillors, whatever their party.

“For too long now, we’ve had politicians at all levels – from central government to local boroughs – who have ignored air pollution and backed roadbuilding schemes that will make it worse.

“In particular, the candidates to be London’s next mayor must cancel Boris Johnson’s Silvertown Tunnel, which will add to congestion and pollution in both south-east and east London.

“Greenwich and Newham councils must face up to their public health responsibilities and challenge TfL’s toxic tunnel, instead of meekly going along with a scheme that will do nothing about congestion yet will damage the lives of thousands of local people.”

No to Silvertown Tunnel has carried out two air pollution studies in east and south east London, which show illegal levels of pollution in areas where people live, work, and attend school.

It will shortly announce the results of a third study, which covered parts of Newham and Tower Hamlets boroughs in east London.

See also:
Client Earth’s press release
The Supreme Court judgment and summary