Government Proposals could see Air Pollution Monitoring Scrapped

Despite widespread breaches of air quality standards designed to protect health, a Scottish Government consultation, which closes today, could see a major scaling back of air pollution monitoring. (1) The consultation deadline was extended by a fortnight due to high levels of public interest.

There is growing public concern over the health impacts of polluted air in Scotland’s urban areas. Friends of the Earth Scotland estimate that at least 2000 Scottish people die prematurely each year from the effects of air pollution (2).  Earlier this year Friends of the Earth Scotland revealed the most polluted streets in Scotland (3).

Emilia Hanna, Air Pollution Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said,

“Monitoring air pollution is essential if local authorities are to improve air quality. If there simply isn’t any data on pollution, then we will become blind to the problem. The government’s proposals try to get more effort into actually improving the air we breathe, but the unintended consequence could be that cash-strapped councils simply stop measuring pollution levels.  We need to retain monitoring, and we also need much more action to reduce pollution, particularly more investment in transport solutions. Low Emissions Zones, better public transport, and better cycling paths are all part of the solution.”

“We are calling on the Environment Minister to show us how the Government will clean up our air through a National Action Plan.”

13 councils across Scotland have declared that their levels of pollution are dangerously high and that they are failing to meet legal targets to make air safe (4).


Other key points in the Friends of the Earth Scotland response:

–        Currently, there is no statutory requirement on Local Authorities to comply with Air Quality targets. Friends of the Earth Scotland recommended that this be introduced and reinforced in Single Outcome Agreements;

–        Friends of the Earth Scotland also recommended the introduction of a Scottish Air Quality Action Plan, as there is no current overarching national framework for tackling air pollution.



Lisa Trainer, Communications Officer: 0131 243 2715

Notes for Editors

(1)  The “Consultation on review of Local Air Quality Management in Scotland” is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/06/5955.  Friends of the Earth Scotland’s response is here: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1640

(2)  This figure is based on findings of the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (“COMEAP”), a UK Government funded body, who reported in 2011 that the deaths of 29,000 people in 2008 were attributable to just on type of air pollution: COMEAP Report, “The Mortality Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Particulate Air Pollution in the United Kingdom”, available at http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317137012567

(3)  ‘Scotland’s most polluted streets revealed’ http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/news030213

(4)  13 local authorities have declared “Air Quality Management Areas”. These are areas where levels of air pollution are above Scottish Air Quality Targets. More information on the state of air quality in Scotland can be found at http://www.scottishairquality.co.uk/laqm.php

(5)  Friends of the Earth Scotland is

·   Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation

·   An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

·   Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent. www.foe-scotland.org.uk 

(6)  Friends of the Earth Scotland is currently running an online action to urge the Environment Minister to produce a National Air Quality Action Plan. http://foes.do/CleanAirNow