Glasgow could be on track to welcome Scotland's first Low Emission Zone, after voters elected a clear majority of councillors in favour.

The Scottish Government has promised that the country's first Low Emission Zone, excluding the most polluting vehicles from the most polluted areas, will be operational by the end of next year.

The SNP and Greens in Glasgow both ran on manifestos committing to bringing that first LEZ to the Merchant City. Between them, the two parties now hold 46 of 85 council seats, with the SNP winning 39 and Greens, 7.

Reacting to the results of today’s election in Glasgow, Emilia Hanna, Air Pollution Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

“With a number of councillors elected whose party manifestos supported strong action to tackle toxic air pollution, it looks likely a Low Emission Zone is very much on the cards for the city.

“Air pollution is a health crisis in Glasgow, responsible for over 300 early deaths in the city every year and still at unsafe levels years after a legal deadline. Just last year, 17 out of 28 monitors in the city centre failed the safety standard. With it looking unlikely that any party will have an outright majority in Glasgow, councillors will have to work together to ensure that Glasgow finally gets the clean air it deserves. We will work with all parties to push for clean air, and will continue to campaign for the Scottish Government to support councils to deliver Low Emission Zones in every major city in Scotland.

The SNP and Greens in Glasgow were also the only parties to commit to spending up to 10% of the transport budget on walking and cycling by the end of the Council term. In Edinburgh, the previous Labour/SNP administration saw record investment in cycling, which in turn has led to a much larger number of cycling commuters.

“We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote” campaign coordinator Sally Hinchcliffe said:

“Despite the focus on national issues because of the snap general election, we've been encouraged to see so much support for active travel among voters and from parties right across Scotland and we hope that the incoming councillors live up to their pledges. Local authorities can make a huge difference to whether people choose to leave the car behind and walk or cycle instead – leaving the air cleaner for everyone.”

Notes to editors

[1] Earlier today, Friends of the Earth Scotland slammed the Scottish Government's input into the UK's newly released air quality plans, criticising the lack of new measures proposed to tackle deadly air pollution: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/air-pollution-uk-gov-strategy

[2]

– Glasgow SNP’s manifesto commitments on transport can be found at https://snpforglasgow.scot/manifesto/transport/. They have promised to establish a Low Emission Zone in the city and to increase funding for active travel to 10% of the transport budget.

– Glasgow Green’s manifesto can be accessed at https://greens.scot/glasgow/manifesto

– Glasgow Labour’s manifesto can be accessed at http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/page/-/2017%20LG%20Election/Put_Glasgow…

– The Conservative Party’s manifesto for the local government elections can be accessed at http://www.scottishconservatives.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/0…

– The Liberal Democrat Party manifesto for the local government elections can be accessed at http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/no2nuisancecalls/mailings/3361/atta…

[3] Health effects of air pollution:

– Exposure to fine particle air pollution (PM2.5) causes over 300 early deaths in Glasgow each year, and over 2000 early deaths across Scotland according to Public Health England: see Table 3, p 20: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/estimates-of-mortality-in-local-autho…

– Nitrogen Dioxide is a poisonous and toxic gas responsible for respiratory problems, and is emitted mainly by motor vehicles, so its presence indicates other harmful vehicle emissions such as Particulate Matter, which has been linked with heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and dementia.

– Long term exposure to air pollution, even at levels lower than the legal limits, increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes: http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.f7412

– Long term exposure to air pollution at levels lower than the legal limits, in pregnant mothers, can cause babies to be born with low birthweights: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(13)70192-9/abstract

– Exposure to high levels of air pollution can reduce children’s lung function: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/laura-donnelly/11953613/Air-pollu…

– Air pollution from fine particles (PM2.5) causes over 2000 deaths every year in Scotland: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil…

[4] We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote, is an coalition of a diverse range of organisations who have been campaigning for local party manifestos and local candidates to pledge support for active travel improvements in the run up to the elections: http://walkcyclevote.scot

[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. www.foe-scotland.org.uk