Reacting to new projections from the UK Department of Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs which show that the expected dates for air to meet European standard for Edinburgh and Glasgow have risen to 2020 and 2025 respectively, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“It was bad enough when Defra said in 2011 that Glasgow and Edinburgh would not meet clean air targets until after 2020 and 2015 respectively. The new projections from Defra push this out to 2025 and 2020, for targets which were supposed to have been met by the end of 2005. We know that hundreds of people are killed off by air pollution every year in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The UK and Scottish governments and the two councils have let the citizens of Scotland’s cities down badly through their lack of action. We need urgent action on traffic levels and polluting vehicles to make our air fit to breathe.

“At this rate Glasgow will have clean air by the Commonwealth Games in 2026”

The new information was revealed today during a case against the UK in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Lawyers for the UK tried to suppress the information using rules on legal privilege, seemingly unaware that it had been revealed on Defra’s own website last night.  The case was taken by Client Earth.

Last year, the UK Supreme Court declared the UK Government is breaching its legal duty to achieve limits for nitrogen dioxide. It then asked the European Court of Justice to rule on what remedial action it can compel the UK government to take. The Court’s judgment is expected before the end of 2014.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. The new projections from Defra are here: http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/no2ten/140708_N02_projection… The previous predictions are here: http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/no2ten/110921_UK_overview_do…

2. “Shocking death toll from air pollution at local level revealed”, Friends of the Earth Scotland press release, April 2014 http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1821 summarises Health Protection England figures which show that over 300 people die each year in Glasgow because of air pollution and over 200 in Edinburgh.

3. FoE recently criticised the Commonwealth Games organisers for failing to deliver on promises on air pollution: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1856

4. 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.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk