After dithering for too long, the European Commission is finally taking Britain to court for failing to clean-up inner-city air quality.

Legal proceedings were kicked off today by Stavros Dimas, the EU’s environment commissioner. If found guilty, Britain faces unlimited daily fines until the pollution is reduced.

The EU Commission says it has "started infringement proceedings against the United Kingdom for failing to comply with the EU's air quality standard for dangerous airborne particles known as PM10. These particles can cause asthma, cardiovascular problems, lung cancer and premature death."

Around 20 built-up areas in the UK are thought to be busting through the limits. Places such as Oxford Street in London, central Oxford and Manchester’s Piccadilly are among the most polluted.

The culprits are, of course, diesel-powered commercial traffic, buses and taxis. I have long ranted and raved about the lunacy of running heavy diesel vehicles in stop-start traffic.

If there’s a better way of spraying busy pavements with health-damaging pollutants, I can’t think of it.

Not that your local ‘green’ campaigner will have much to say about the risk of asthma, decreased lung function, lung diseases and smog formation. As we all know, Co2 – an otherwise locally benign gas – is the real enemy.