Northern Ireland’s landmark air quality case delayed
A first-of-its-kind judicial review aimed at forcing Northern Ireland’s Department of Infrastructure to resume carrying out exhaust emissions tests on diesel cars has been delayed until January.
The case brought by Friends of the Earth NI with support from The PILS Project was expected to return to the High Court today following an initial hearing in September, but has been vacated and given a new date of 22 January 2024.
Hundreds of thousands of diesel cars have never received a legally compliant exhaust emissions test at government-controlled MOT vehicle testing centres. The test was introduced in 2006 but was stopped after four months and it has never been restarted.
The Department for Infrastructure is still not carrying out the legally required exhaust emissions test on any diesel cars in Northern Ireland, over five years after the failure was publicly exposed in a high-profile BBC Spotlight investigation.
Lawyers for Friends of the Earth NI argue that, in failing to fully test the emissions of diesel cars in Northern Ireland, the Department has not only breached its duties under vehicle testing law but also its duties to protect public health and the health of Northern Ireland’s biodiversity and wildlife habitats.
The Clean Air NI judicial review is creating legal history in Northern Ireland as one of the first cases to rely on the Climate Change Act 2022 in court.