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1st November 2022

Formal complaint issued on failure to meet environmental target setting deadline

We’ve joined with members of the Healthy Air Campaign, Wildlife and Countryside Link and Greener UK coalitions to submit a formal complaint to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for breaching the legal duty to set environmental targets.

Section 4 of the 2021 Environment Act places a legal requirement on the Secretary of State to lay legally binging targets for air and water quality, biodiversity, waste and resource efficiency before Parliament on or before 31 October 2022.

Failure to meet the deadline is extremely disappointing. Earlier this year, members of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change called on the government to set ambitious targets for cleaner air and greater urgency in tackling air pollution to protect health. In our response to the Environmental Targets consultation we said that achieving a target for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) of 10 µg/mby 2030 should be seen as the absolute minimum with a longer term aim of placing us on a trajectory of achieving the WHO’s recommended guideline of 5 µg/m3.

Air pollution has significant public health impacts and has been linked to anxiety, depression, suicide, dementia, cognitive abilities, miscarriage, low birth weight, stillbirth, asthma, poor lung function, and cardiovascular conditions. The affects are seen across all age groups from pre-term babies to the elderly. Setting targets to reduce air pollution will have significant positive health benefits, including fewer infant deaths and asthma symptom days in children caused by poor air quality.

We urge the department to publish proposed targets as soon as possible and put in place a remedial action plan to address this breach at the earliest opportunity.

The complaint can be viewed here: