Brexit plainly holds implications for the future in terms of the role of air quality in decision making in a development context. It seems to me to be highly likely that there will be pressure to at the least water down the nature of the statutory duty to attain limit values.
In September 2016 Environment Minister, Therese Coffey, and Minister for Exiting the European, Robin Walker, were subjected to scrutiny from the Common’s Environmental Audit Committee where they faced questioning on air pollution. Asked no less than seven times whether the UK would maintain EU air quality laws following Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, Ministers both refused to make such a commitment.
It seems to me that decision makers are likely to prefer a duty that allows for more flexibility in decision making. My prediction is that the limit values will remain in place but that the duty will be amended to allow decision makers to take into account the costs and benefits of a particular decision. Thus, development which would be economically advantageous might be permitted even if this resulted in continued breach of air quality limits.
This blog is based on a paper Reuben Taylor QC delivered at Landmark Chambers Air Quality seminar on Monday of this week.