1 May 2013

Supreme Court rules: Illegal city pollution MUST be tackled

St Albans Greens have been campaigning since 2009 for action on air pollution in the centre of St Albans, particularly at the Peahen and Watson's Walk junctions (see picture above from 2009). It's also one of the issues I've been pursuing since I became a councillor in 2011.

But it's been hard work. Greens got district council agreement for signs to encourage queuing drivers to switch off their engines while they wait for the lights. But the County Council refuses to play ball. And I'm continually asking why bus and taxi drivers are free to leave their engines idling for hours on end while they park up in the city centre. It should be a condition of their business that they do not do this.

Today, the UK Supreme Court has ruled that the government has failed in its duty to protect people from air pollution, and opened the way to heavy fines from Europe. In what has been described as "a landmark decision", drastic action may now be needed to avoid penalties - action which could affect the movement of cars and heavy goods vehicles.

The problems in our region were specifically included in the case to the Supreme Court, along with those in large cities like London and Glasgow.

It's not clear how St Albans itself will be affected, or who'd have to pay any fines. But by the time we find out, it could be too late to take action. Local government needs to act NOW to protect residents' health and reduce the threat of heavy fines.

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