LEEDS has been named on a list of UK cities affected by air quality problems that have prompted environment chiefs in Brussels to take the British Government to court.
London, Birmingham and Glasgow are among the 15 other locations that saw levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – largely from car exhaust fumes – peaking as high as 102 microgrammes per cubic metre of air during 2016.
The European Union’s NO2 limit is 40 microgrammes and yesterday its environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella, confirmed the UK had been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for breaching air quality rules.
A letter of formal notice has also been issued that accuses the UK of disregarding EU measures that were introduced in the wake of the Volkswagen diesel scandal and are designed to deter car manufacturers from trying to cheat emission tests.
France and Germany have also been referred to the ECJ for breaching NO2 limits, though both had a better record than the UK.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the main reason for non-compliance was the failure of European standards for diesel cars to deliver the expected reductions in emissions.
Leeds City Council deputy leader Coun James Lewis said air quality was a “major priority” for the authority.
He added: “We recently held a consultation around a charging clean air zone affecting HGVs, buses, coaches, taxi and private hire vehicles amongst other proposals and are using responses to this consultation to inform our final proposals which should be available for comment at the end of June.”