Last updateTue, 11 Jun 2024 9am

The fundamental right to be protected from the dangers of air pollution

The British Safety Council welcomed the news of the High Court quashing the verdict of the 2014 inquest into the death of nine-year old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who suffered a fatal asthma attack. Her mother Rosamund has since campaigned for a fresh inquest, believing Ella’s death was caused by high levels of air pollution near her home in southeast London. It means that Ella could become the first person in the UK to have air pollution mentioned as a contributory factor on her death certificate.

Lawrence Waterman, Chairman of the British Safety Council, commented: “The ruling of the High Court is proof that since 2014 we have become much better informed about the dangers of air pollution. Air pollution, linked to as many as 36,000 early deaths a year, is now recognised as the biggest environmental risk to public health. Research from King’s College London suggests that more than 9,400 people die prematurely due to poor air quality in London alone.

Keeping compliant across the UK: Some differences in environmental legislation

In comparison with many other parts of the world, the UK has a commendable record of protecting the environment from damage and for working constructively with engineers and contractors to mitigate the effects of necessary operations, writes Simon Knott (pictured), managing director of environmental consultancy Naturally Compliant.

The relevant legislation is by its nature complex, and busy construction professionals engaged in engineering activities need to be up to speed with what they can and cannot do while remaining compliant with the regulations.

Campaigners to challenge environmental costs cap removal

Two environmental charities – Friends of the Earth and the RSPB – and the environmental law firm ClientEarth have started legal proceedings against the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice to challenge what they believe to be unlawful new costs rules for environmental cases.

The new rules, brought in on 28 February, weaken financial protection for people bringing a case, meaning they face unspecified legal costs in return for going to court to protect the environment.

A costs cap of £5,000 for claims brought by individuals and £10,000 for those brought by organisations and public bodies, introduced in 2013, has been lifted for environmental judicial reviews brought under the Aarhus Convention in England and Wales.

Environmental professionals warn over future outlook

Experts from the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) have expressed concern about the future implementation of European environmental standards following the UK’s secession from the EU, particularly given the uncertainty thrown up by the election result.

IEMA’s chief policy advisor, Martin Baxter (pictured), said: “The outcome of the general election raises significant challenges, from forming a government to developing and implementing a legislative programme: all against a backdrop of the UK’s Article 50 notification to leave the EU.”

“IEMA members expressed significant concern in the run up to the election on a wide range of sustainability issues including air quality, climate change and circular economy. It is vital that the short-term uncertainties are quickly resolved so that long-term challenges can be properly addressed.”

Guidance on flood risk updated

Your Expert WitnessThe Law Society has issued a revised Flood Risk Practice Note to solicitors, reflecting increased concerns over homes and businesses in flood-prone areas. The practice note covers the issues and resources that solicitors need to be aware of when acting for buyers: from Environment Agency flood maps and specialist surveys to insurance.

The Environment Agency estimates that one in six homes in England – 5.2 million – are at risk from flooding. In Wales, more than 200,000 properties are at risk from sea or river flooding and 230,000 properties are at risk from surface water flooding.

In December last year, 16,000 properties were flooded in England following storms that hit over the Christmas period, as well as earlier in the month.