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England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions >> ClientEarth, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs  EWHC 3623 (Admin) (13 December 2011)
Cite as:  EWHC 3623 (Admin)
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QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF CLIENTEARTH||Claimant|
|SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS||Defendant|
WordWave International Limited
A Merrill Communications Company
165 Fleet Street London EC4A 2DY
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7404 1424
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
Miss K Smith (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the Defendant
Crown Copyright ©
"Member States should take action in order to comply with the limit values ..."
Recital 16 stated:
"For zones and agglomerations where conditions are particularly difficult, it should be possible to postpone the deadline for compliance with the air quality limit values in cases where, notwithstanding the implementation of appropriate pollution abatement measures, acute compliance problems exist in specific zones and agglomerations. Any postponement for a given zone or agglomeration should be accompanied by a comprehensive plan to be assessed by the Commission to ensure compliance by the revised deadline."
"1. Where, in a given zone or agglomeration, conformity with the limit values for nitrogen dioxide... cannot be achieved by the deadlines specified in Annex X1, a Member State may postpone those deadlines by a maximum of five years for that particular zone or agglomeration, on condition that an air quality plan is established in accordance with Article 23 for the zone or agglomeration to which the postponement would apply; such air quality plan shall be supplemented by the information listed in Section B of Annex XV related to the pollutants concerned and shall demonstrate how conformity will be achieved with the limit values before the new deadline."
"Members states shall notify the Commission where, in their view, paragraphs 1 or 2 are applicable, and shall communicate the air quality plan referred to in paragraph 1 including all relevant information necessary for the Commission to assess whether or not the relevant conditions are satisfied."
Article 22(4) goes on to provide:
"Where the Commission has raised no objections within nine months of receipt of that notification, the relevant conditions for the application of paragraphs 1 or 2 shall be deemed to be satisfied"
"If objections are raised the Commission may require Member States to adjust or provide new air quality plans."
Article 23 deals with air quality plans. Under the heading "Air Quality Plans:
'1. Where, in given zones or agglomerations, the levels of pollutants in ambient air exceed any limit value or target value, plus any relevant margin of tolerance in each case, Member States shall ensure that air quality plans are established for those zones and agglomerations in order to achieve the related limit value…specified in Annex 11…
In the event of exceedences of those limit values for which the attainment deadline is already expired, the air quality plans shall set out appropriate measures, so that the exceedance period can be kept as short as possible.'
"As regards nitrogen dioxide…the limit values may not be exceeded from 1 January 2010 at the latest. Where the conditions are met (a reference to those to be imposed under Article 22 of the 2008 Directive) the deadline for achieving compliance may be postponed until such time as is necessary for achieving compliance with the limit values, but at maximum until 2015. If an exceedence of the limit values for nitrogen dioxide…occurs for the first time only in 2011 or later, postponing the deadline is no longer possible. In those cases, the second subparagraph of Article 23(1) of the new Directive will apply."
"En cas depassement de ces valeurs limites apres le delai prevu pour leur application, les plans relatifs a la qualite de l'air prevoient des mesures appropriees pour que la periode de depassement soit la plus courte possible. Its peuvent comporter des mesures additionnelles specifiques pour proteger les categories de populations sensibles, notamment les enfants."
The Commission's interpretation is clearly a viable reading of the French text.
"Member States shall notify the Commission where, in their view, paragraphs 1 or 2 are applicable, and shall communicate the air quality plan referred to in paragraph 1 ..."
But that, at least in the English text, appears to apply to the whole of Article 22(1), namely to a circumstance in which limit values have been exceeded and the Member State applies to extend the deadline of the compliance. The French text is not identical. It provides:
"Un Etat membre peut reporter ces delais de cinq ans au maximum pour la zone ou agglomeration en cause, a condition qu'un plan relatif a la qualite de l'air soit etabli conformement a l'article 23 pour la zone ou l'agglomeration a laquelle le report de delai s'appliquerait."
Even those words cannot override the "peut" in the French text of article 22(1).