Complaint lodged to EU over M4 bus lane removal

Campaign group Clean Air in London lodges complaint to Commission over UK government’s decision to remove bus lane on M4, which breaches air quality limits

A formal complaint against the UK government over the removal of the M4 motorway bus lane has been lodged to the European Commission by an air quality campaign group.

Clean Air in London (CAL)’s Simon Birkett claims the secretary of state for transport permanently removed the M4 bus lane without doing anything to mitigate the ‘ongoing breaches of the NO2 annual limit value’ on the road.

The M4 motorway with the bus lane in red, which has now been removed (Image: Google)

The M4 motorway with the bus lane in red, which has now been removed (Image: Google)

According to Mr Birkett, CAL was told by the Highways Agency in September 2012 that it had no money to put in place air quality mitigation measures after the removal of the bus lane.

Mr Birkett also claims that an Environmental Impact Assessment was not carried out and criticises the government for not holding a consultation on the bus lane’s removal.

In his complaint, he states that the government is treating EU air quality limits values ‘with contempt’.

It follows the Highways Agency’s announcement this week that the bus lane had been removed permanently, following its temporary suspension in 2010.

Work originally began on removing the 3.5 mile bus lane on the London-bound motorway, close to Heathrow Airport, in November 2010 when Philip Hammond MP was transport secretary, although it was restored for the duration of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The lane was first introduced in 1999 to ease congestion for buses, but proved unpopular with many motorists, which led to its suspension. The lane was criticised for not being used enough.


Dated October 9 2013, the complaint to the European Commission states: ‘CAL urges commission to pursue infringement action against the UK in this case, including a referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union, to enforce the NO2 limit values in Greater London where the government is treating the EU limit values with contempt.’

‘It is clear the Secretary of State for Transport decided to remove the M4 bus lane in October 2010 without proper consideration to the environmental and public health impacts and/or statutory protections.’

The complaint continues: ‘It seems therefore every effort has been made by the government in the last two years to avoid a consultation or an inquiry or the implementation of mitigation measures.’

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said: “We are committed to our environmental  responsibilities. We are aware of and are considering the complaint lodged by Clean Air in London with the European Commission relating to the removal of the M4 bus lane.”


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