“A good example of possible news manipulation follows. On 12 April, the Cabinet Office issued its guidance in respect of the local elections (hands off). On the same day, the Department for Transport declared, in far from neutral terms (lots of jobs, all wonderful etc etc) its unequivocal support for a particular route for the new Lower Thames Crossing – think a way over Thames avoiding Dartford Crossings. This will lead to more traffic and more emissions of nitrogen dioxide, though the latter was invisible in the departmental announcement. This was governmental Good News, as it conceived it to be, though it plainly had implications for the councils who might benefit or indeed be burdened by the new scheme.
So the judge was right to be very sceptical about efforts to postpone the publication of a rather unconvincing response to a Bad News story.”
R (ClientEarth) v Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Garnham J, 27 April 2017, judgment here
Last November (here) the judge decided that the UK’s air pollution plans under EU and domestic laws were not good enough. The case has a long, and unedifying back-story of Government not doing what the law says it should do – see the depressing list of posts at the bottom of this post.
The pollutant was nitrogen dioxide, a product of vehicle exhaust fumes. And as the judge reminded us in this latest instalment, the Department for Transport’s own evidence suggests that 64 people are dying everyday as a result of this pollutant.
The particular issue might seem legally unpromising. Government wanted to delay the publication of its latest consultation proposal from 24 April 2017 (the date ordered by the judge last November) until after the Council elections on 4 May, and, then, once…
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