As someone who wants to work in a clean, healthy, forward-looking city, I was delighted to read the recent transport proposals from City of Edinburgh Council. The plans, with car free days, and a low emission zone, will remove the worst polluting vehicles from the Capital while making it a much better place to walk and cycle.
Our air quality needs to be urgently addressed. Air pollution causes a variety of serious health problems, and high air pollution episodes have been linked to spikes in hospital admissions. Improving air quality benefits our health, the city, and our health service. 200 lives in Edinburgh are lost prematurely each year due to air pollution. The Council has declared 6 pollution zones in the city, including one which covers the whole of the city centre, where air pollution levels are breaking health safety thresholds. Any changes so far has been ineffective in tackling the issue. We need to start seeing real action.
The plans from the Council, titled “Edinburgh: connecting our city, transforming our places”, cover 3 different projects; a transformation of the city centre, a transport strategy, and the low emission zone. The council’s report proposes “a radical rethink of how the city moves and operates” which could result in a city centre with a huge reduction in traffic.
Glasgow City Council recently approved their low emission zone plans, which were disappointingly weak and won’t improve air quality for several years. With Dundee and Aberdeen still to announce any concrete plans, Edinburgh has the chance to show real leadership for all of Scotland’s towns and cities.
Anyone who lives in Edinburgh and cares about air pollution should respond to the Council’s consultation and make sure they follow through on these ambitious plans.
You can quickly show your support for the Council plans below
Gavin Thomson is an air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland