Treasury blocked moves to charge diesel cars to enter polluted UK cities
High court hears evidence in air pollution case against the government that environment and transport department plans were overruled
Tuesday 18 October 2016 14.03 BST
The Treasury blocked other government departments from charging diesel cars to enter towns and cities blighted by air pollution, documents revealed during a high court hearing on Tuesday.
Legal NGO ClientEarth is challenging the government’s pollution plan, which by law should cut illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide in the “shortest possible time”. Air pollution causes 50,000 early deaths and £27.5bn in costs every year, according to the government’s own estimates, and was called a “public health emergency” by MPs in April.
It is the second time ClientEarth has sued the government over air pollution, which has broken EU legal limits since 2010 in many parts of the country. ClientEarth won in the supreme court in 2015 and ministers were ordered to draw up an action plan, but ClientEarth argues even the new plan is illegal and has gone back to court. Government lawyers will put forward their defence on Wednesday, with the judgment expected in the following weeks or months.