TAN was granted permission in July to apply for judicial review of the green light for the multi billion pounds roads expansion programme on the grounds of its climate change impact. That will go to a full hearing in due course.

Now the campaign group is applying for permission to bring the judicial review on the further grounds of air quality and lack of strategic environmental assessment, which the first judge initially refused.

It argues that the Secretary of State has a duty to "actively to drive down levels of air pollution, not merely to ask himself whether air quality impacts of a given development are too severe to permit it to proceed".

It argues that strategic environmental impact is grounds for review because although the judge said RIS2 "is an investment document rather than a planning policy document for future development" and therefore would not fall within the Strategic Environmental Assessment regulations, RIS2 is "a document containing elements of (or akin to) planning policy" because it constrains consideration of the need for road projects further down the line.

TAN is represented by Leigh Day solicitors, David Wolfe QC (Matrix chambers) and Pete Lockley (11 KBW).

Chris Todd, TAN's director, said:

"While the High Court has already agreed to put the DfT in the dock on its climate record, it's only right ministers should answer to the public how on earth their roads plan is compatible with clean air.

"As our biggest cities try to reduce car use to cut carbon and pollution, how can dumping the largest ever roads programme on their doorsteps help? The DfT likes to say its analysis of transport projects is world leading, so why won't it add up the full environmental impacts of its roads programme?"

Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith said:

"In the context of this being the UK's largest ever roads programme, and air pollution being one of the biggest threats to human health, the Government argues that it wasn't legally required to consider the effects of the scheme taken as a whole.

"Rather, it was allowed to wait to consider all of that as part of individual planning decisions. However, our client will argue that will avoid taking account of the wider cumulative environmental impacts that may have lasting and adverse consequences for people and the planet."

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