Responding to the news that Edinburgh City Council will be closing off the Mound and part of George Street to mark National Clean Air Day, Air Pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland Emilia Hanna said:

“Well done to Edinburgh City Council for showing leadership and a willingness to highlight the link between traffic and air pollution on National Clean Air Day. Edinburgh still has an invisible air pollution crisis caused by traffic, with 200 early deaths a year and damage to our children’s lungs caused by the city’s toxic traffic fumes.

“The Council needs to make sure that the strong symbolism it is showing with this event translates into better transport and planning policy decisions on the ground. The Picardy Place proposal, and controversy over the hotel development in the Cowgate are examples of where the Council still isn’t getting it right for people and clean air. Let’s hope this event marks the start of air quality being better prioritised in urban planning.

“These road closures will give our city some breathing space from the pollution caused by traffic and are an excellent opportunity to think about the dominance of the private car in our urban centres. Hopefully we’ll start to see regular car free days in Edinburgh and other cities in Scotland in the near future.

“It is becoming easier and easier to access Edinburgh City Centre by foot, by bike, bus, or tram but more needs to be done to make these the natural choice for even more Edinburgh residents.

“Ahead of National Clean Air Day, Friends of the Earth Scotland will be hosting a Pop Up Park on the east end of George Street in Edinburgh, where we will be turning car parking spaces into parks on Saturday 16 June. We will be inviting members of the public to reimagine our city in a way that puts people at the heart of our urban realm and not cars. We have free yoga, singing, and dancing workshops, and all are welcome to join in the fun from 11a.m.-3p.m.”

  1. The story was reported in the Scotsman: https://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/edinburgh-city-centre-roads-to-close-for-clean-air-day-1-4751290
  2. For more details on Friends of the earth Scotland’s Pop up Park on 16 June: https://foe.scot/get-involved/carpark2018/
  3. Edinburgh has 6 Pollution Zones where health standards on air pollution are regularly broken years after a deadline. for more, see https://foe.scot/press-release/polluted-streets-list-2017/
  4. The City of Edinburgh Council has approved initial plans to introduce a Low Emission Zone for the City
  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, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.