Air pollution causes over 2,500 early deaths in Scotland every year. Our vision is for clean and fair transport systems, where public transport, walking, and cycling are put on an equal footing with cars.

Air pollution is creating a public health crisis

We have 38 official Pollution Zones across Scotland’s towns and cities where air quality levels are failing safety standards. Air pollution causes cancer and reduces our life expectancy. It can damage our lungs and blood, causes heart failure, exacerbates asthma, and has recently been linked with dementia, diabetes, and obesity. It especially harmful to children, the elderly, and people living in poverty or made vulnerable from other health conditions.

Let’s clear the air

Traffic is the dominant cause of air pollution. That’s why we want to see clean and fair transport systems in Scotland. We’re working to urgently shift the balance of transport policy and spending towards clean public transport, cycling and walking. Not only will this mean cleaner air, but it will also mean less climate emissions from the transport sector, and a better transport system for all.

Most polluted streets

Our research reveals the country’s most polluted streets and confirms that air pollution remains a public health crisis plaguing Scotland.

We analysed official 2017 data for two toxic pollutants – Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter – to show recorded pollution levels continued to break Scottish and European air quality standards in ten locations across four towns and cities.

Low Emission Zones

We are calling on the Scottish Government to support and fund local authorities to create Low Emission Zones in every city with dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, and Perth. Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are areas in town or city centres where the most polluting vehicles are banned from entering. They are one of the most effective ways to protect vulnerable people from dirty air and exist in over 200 cities across Europe. The Scottish Government has committed to introducing four LEZs by 2020 with the first in 2018 and, where necessary, in other Pollution Zones by 2023  – it now needs to deliver.

Making space for walking and cycling

Scotland should be a place where everyone has access to excellent cycling and walking paths. Travelling by walking and cycling means reduced pollution and carbon emissions, and brings benefits for our physical and mental health. Currently only 1% of all trips in Scotland are made by bicycle, compared to 66% by car. In the Netherlands, 27% of journeys are made on two wheels. We know that good quality infrastructure makes all the difference to people’s travel choices. That’s why we want the Scottish Government and all local authorities to spend 10% of their transport budgets on walking and cycling infrastructure. We are members of We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote, a diverse umbrella organisation made up of health and environmental organisations working together on active travel.

Improving bus services

We want to see buses across Scotland work for the many who either do not have access to a car or want to make an environmental choice to leave their car at home. We want to see good bus services in rural and urban areas, cheap fares, reliable services, and smart ticketing. Buses are part of the solution to air pollution, with one full double decker bus taking up to 75 cars off the road. We are campaigning for a new Bus Act which would give local councils the power to own bus companies and to also operate franchises over bus networks. These powers would enable councils to operate bus services in the public interest.