Friends of the Earth to take legal action over failures in diesel testing

Friends of the Earth, along with Northern Ireland’s PILS Project have been granted permission to bring legal action against the Department for Infrastructure on the basis that hundreds of thousands of diesel cars in Northern Ireland have never received a legally compliant exhaust emissions test at government-controlled MOT vehicle testing centres. The case will now proceed to full hearing in June 2023.

The PILSProject is The Public Interest Litigation Support, a legal project in Northern Ireland which helps local NGOs and legal professionals to build public interest litigation. Along with Friends of the Earth they have  highlighted serious air pollution concerns caused by diesel emissions and have issued legal proceedings against the Department for Infrastructure over its recurring failure to identify dangerous emissions levels during MOT testing.

gray engine bay

Their legal team will argue that in failing to fully test the emissions of diesel cars in Northern Ireland during MOT testing over a period of 17 years, the Department for Infrastructure has breached its duties not only under vehicle testing law but also its duties to protect public health and the health of Northern Ireland’s biodiversity and wildlife habitats.

James Orr, Director, Friends of the Earth NI commented: ‘For the Department to consistently fail to comply with the law is nothing short of a major scandal. The science is clear, the law is clear – there is a duty to test emissions in order to protect both public health and the health of habitats. We are taking the government to Court because we all have a right to breathe clean air.’

Maria McCloskey, PILS Director, said: ‘This is not just a case about diesel emissions. It is about air quality, environmental protections, and about a fundamental failure of our government to fulfil its legal obligations since 2006. This case potentially impacts every single person living in Northern Ireland. It is, at its core, a public health issue. We, at PILS, are pleased to be able to offer our support to Friends of the Earth NI in this vitally important legal challenge.’

As we reported in November, a Private Members’ bill aimed at introducing new regulations for testing diesel engines is due a second reading next month.

Image: Garett Mizunaka



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