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UKELA meeting considers impact of Brexit on Air Quality

Last night I attended UKELA’s London meeting on air quality held at Herbert Smith Freehills.

There were three excellent speakers, among them Alan Andrews of Client Earth who shared his concerns over the impact of Brexit on Air Quality.

He was concerned pessimistic about what would become of the Air Quality Directive (Directive 2008/50/EC), the key piece of legislation in this field, following Brexit.

He explained that if the UK adopted the Norway/EFTA model that Directive would continue to apply, and noted that indeed last year the EFTA Court in Case E-7/15 EFTA Surveillance Authority v Norway ruled that Norway was in breach of the limit values contained in the Air Quality Directive.

On the other hand if the UK went for some sort of bespoke arrangement, for example, like the Canada bilateral trade agreement there would likely be no requirement for environmental laws such as the Air Quality Directive to continue to apply. While the Directive would likely continue to be given effect via the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 on a transitional basis immediately post-Brexit he expressed concern that the Government might then seek to water down the requirements. He noted that the UK Government had lobbied in Brussels to water down the Directive and that the Red Tape Challenge – Environment Theme proposals (March 2012) had indicated that the UK would seek amendments to the Air Quality Directive “which reduce the infraction risk faced by most Member States, especially in relation to nitrogen dioxide provisions”.

Alan argued the need for a new Clean Air Act 2016 to put air quality law on a sound domestic footing.

For those interested in these legal issues Landmark Chambers is running a seminar on Air Quality on 14 November 2016. Speakers include Reuben Taylor QC, Landmark Chambers, Dr Eloise Scotford, KCL and Dr Claire Holman, Brook Cottage Consultants: see here for the programme.