Government must now act on air pollution, says Supreme Court

29 April 2015        

Cars in smog

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Government must deliver new plans by the end of the year to cut illegal levels of air pollution. We are pleased and have welcomed this decision.

Exposure to high levels of air pollution can exacerbate existing heart conditions, increase the risk of heart attack and increase the risk of hospitalisation or death from stroke.

Powered by our research

We have been at the forefront of research that has shown the links between air pollution and cardiovascular disease. Just last month a study we funded at the University of Edinburgh showed the impact of air pollution on stroke risk.

The UK has been breaching legal limits for nitrogen dioxide since 2010 in 16 different cities and regions. Research suggests that in the UK as many as 35,000 to 50,000 people could die prematurely each year, as a result of short term exposure to air pollution.

End of long battle

The judgement signals the end of four-year battle in EU and UK courts by environmental group ClientEarth to force the UK Government to comply with EU regulations.

Following the verdict, our Director of Policy, Mike Hobday, said:

“Today’s ruling sends a clear message to the UK Government. They must put plans in place to clean up the UK’s dirty air.

"The UK Government has a duty to protect public health and ensure the air we breathe is safe – a duty they have so far failed to fulfil.

“Reducing air pollution will help protect the health of the 7 million people living with cardiovascular disease and also help protect the heart health of future generations.”

Advice on air pollution

If you are worried about your exposure to air pollution and how it might affect your cardiovascular health, please download our factsheet for advice.

Research we funded helped show the dangers of air pollution. We receive no Government funding for our research and it is only possible with your support.