UK threatened with EU court action over air pollution
The UK has been threatened with legal action over high levels of air pollution, following 16 breaches of legal standards.
London, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow were among the places where excessive levels of nitrogen oxide have been detected in the atmosphere, promoting the European commision to issue a "final warning" to the UK government to take action to curb the problem. Unless something is done within two months, it could be taken to the European Court of Justice and a fine of up to £300 million could result.
Germany, France, Italy and Spain has also received warnings from the Commission.
Nitrogen oxide comes from a range of sources, although the biggest one is diesel engines. However, good insulation is one thing that can help curb air pollution of various kinds, particularly carbon dioxide. By making homes, offices, public buildings and other structures easier to keep warm, less energy will need to be used and thus less carbon produced from burning fossil fuels.
With a third of emissions coming from buildings and two-thirds of the structures that will be standing half a century from now already existing, it is not just new-builds that will need insulation.
The Commission threat to Britain comes despite the imminent triggering of Article 50, which will still mean the UK is subject to EU laws until the two-year process of Brexit is complete.
However, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said Britain is not to blame for this pollution, claiming it is all the fault of the Germans.
He told his LBC Radio show: "Funny isn’t it, we get a south-easterly wind and all the pollution from Germany comes to British cities and were told it’s our fault."
Mr Farage claimed the right response would be to speed up Brexit so that Britain could avoid having to pay the fine.