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Birmingham one of UK's worst cities for air pollution

The Supreme Court has ordered the government to cut the level of nitrogen dioxide in Britain's air.

Campaigners claim pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK - more than from obesity and alcohol combined.

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports from Birmingham, one of the worst affected cities.

Government ordered to take action on air pollution limits

The Government has been ordered by the UK's highest court to take immediate action over its obligations under European law on air pollution limits.

A hazy view of Canary Wharf in London. Credit: PA Wire

Judges at the Supreme Court ruled that the "Government must prepare and consult on new air quality plans for submission to the European Commission ... no later than December 31 2015".

It comes after environmental campaigners ClientEarth launched a case against the government over its "ongoing breach" of European Union law on limits of nitrogen dioxide in the air.

Announcing the decision, Lord Carnwath said: "The new government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue."

A Defra spokesperson said that “air quality has improved significantly in recent years".

They added: "As this judgement recognises, work is already underway on revised plans (since February 2014) to meet EU targets on NO2 as soon as possible.”

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Air pollution 'killing as many people as smoking'

Air pollution in the UK could be killing as many people as smoking does - MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee said.

Calling for the government to act to protect young and vulnerable people from the impact of air pollution by ensuring schools and hospitals are not build near main roads or motorways, MPs said public health must be prioritised over economic growth and had a number of recommendations.

  • Air quality obligations should be included in new road building plans
  • Legal loopholes that allow mechanics to remove engine filters from HGVs should be closed
  • New measures to encourage drivers to move away from diesel should be examined
  • A diesel scrappage scheme to help drivers switch to cleaner vehicles should be considered
  • An independent inquiry should be established to look at what else is needed
  • EU legislation on emission standards needs back up by testing

MP: Air pollution in the UK is a public health crisis

Current levels of air pollution across cities in the UK are at "crisis levels" and represent a "public health crisis" that the government must act on, Joan Walley, chair of the Environment Audit Committee has said.

Launching a scathing report that details the illegal levels of air pollution afflicting citizens in cities all over the country, she called for urgent action to stop the 60,000 deaths per year associated with poor air quality.

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