QC Opinion for ‘Clean Air in London’ on Air Quality Law (including Heathrow)

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Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said:

“The law about air pollution is not being properly applied.  So ‘Clean Air in London’ (CAL) asked Harrison Grant, its environmental solicitors, to obtain advice from Queen’s Counsel on the approach which planning authorities across the UK should take to Air Quality Law (see notes).

“In particular CAL wanted to clarify the extent to which planning decisions should take into account breaches, or potential breaches, of air pollution limits.

“CAL received that advice today from Robert McCracken QC and is publishing it immediately.  The opinion has relevance: for everyone interested in planning including the Government and Mayor of London; and to planning-related decisions about infrastructure, possible airport expansion or east London river crossings.

“In seeking the advice, CAL has sought to clarify key legal protections that exist for the general public in relation to ambient or outdoor air pollution.  CAL’s aim is not to discourage sustainable development but rather to ensure that tough decisions to reduce air pollution and protect public health are taken by the Government, the Mayor and other planning authorities.  In CAL’s view, such action must include the urgent banning of diesel exhaust from the most polluted places – just as the UK banned coal burning, so successfully, nearly 60 years ago.

“CAL intends to issue a more detailed statement in due course.”


Government announcement about airport expansion on 10 December 2015



1. Robert Mc Cracken QC Opinion for ‘Clean Air in London’ (signed 6 October 2015 with note)

CAL 322 Robert McCracken QC opinion for CAL_Air Quality Directive and Planning_Signed 061015

CAL 322 Stephen Tromans QC legal_opinion on LP Parking 280915

CAL 322 GLA document and Stephen Tromans QC legal_opinion on LP Parking 221015

2. Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (the Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC).  The Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC applies across Europe to protect public health and has been transposed into UK law.  It provides important protections beyond those already in the Clean Air Act 1956 and the Environment Act 1995.


3.  Related attachments

 air-quality-planning-guidance v1.1

CAL 304 Letter of clarification from the Commission 190214_Redacted

CAL 304 Letter to Greenwich re Enderby Wharf 130515_Scanned


Planning appeal_Richborough Estates_100615


CAL 297 Defra guidance for EA on LVs etc_February 2013 (2)

CAL 322 Letter to DG ENV_Letter from Michele Dix TfL – 020512

CAL 322 EPUK aq_guidance 2010

CAL 318 Submission to EAC re LHR 020915