A EURO-MP has claimed the environment and public health will be under threat after Brexit.

Molly Scott Cato welcomed the news that the UK had been referred to the European Court of Justice for failing to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.

Dr Scott Cato, Green member of the European Parliament for the South West, said this was an indication of threats to the environment and public health in the UK after Brexit.

The House of Lords recently voted for an independent body to maintain European Union environmental protection standards after Britain leaves the EU.

Dr Scott Cato said: “To emphasise the importance of such a body to scrutinise government action or inaction on the environment, the EU has referred the UK to the European Court of Justice over its failure to tackle an air pollution health crisis responsible for shortening the lives of thousands of people every year.

“The coincidence of these two events shows how vulnerable our environment will be if we go ahead with Brexit.”

The UK is being taken to court by the European Commission for a long-standing failure to meet EU limits for nitrogen dioxide. Five other nations have also been referred to the court.

The MEP criticised environment secretary Michael Gove’s plans for future regulation.

“In spite of the warm words about a Green Brexit, Michael Gove's proposal is nothing more than a toothless watchdog. As has been the case for four decades, the real muscle when it comes to environmental protection is always shown by the EU, and often in opposition to our own government,” she added.