Just days after the Liberal Democrats demanded the government publish a highly embarrassing report on air pollution before the election, the High Court has ruled that it must be published within two weeks - and that the secretary of state, Andrea Leadsom is in breach of a court order.
Ed Davey, Lib Dem former cabinet minister for Energy and Climate Change, said on Monday that the government is blocking release of its report into air pollution because it is worried the “shaming” findings would become a major election issue.
Ed Davey said: “Air pollution is one of the biggest health challenges in Britain today. The Conservatives have hidden the truth about their toxic policies. Increasingly air pollution is linked to a rise in asthma, COPD, heart conditions, and even recently to dementia. A vote for the Tories is a vote for more air pollution.
“It is a disgrace that the government wants to block a report which is expected to say that pollution is at dangerous levels in many of our cities and towns."
Ministers have now been ordered to publish their draft plan by 9 May 2017. The High Court has ruled that the government must comply and also publish their final policy for addressing air pollution by 31 July.
Speaking to the Guardian, Mr Justice Garnham said this was are necessary to safeguard public health. “The continued failure of the government to comply with directives and regulations constitutes a significant threat to public health.”
Ed Davey points out that “you can’t have clean air and a hard Brexit".
“Ministers are hugely embarrassed because it is EU air quality standards the government is flouting. No wonder Theresa May wants a hard Brexit, so she can change the rules to leave polluters free to damage the nation’s health.
“The government is refusing to spend the money on measures that would improve air quality, such as investment in public transport, but this is a false economy because it burdens the NHS and destroys lives.”