Reacting to the report from Holyrood’s Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee of their inquiry into air pollution, Emilia Hanna, Air Pollution Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“This is a very welcome report from a key Holyrood Committee, which questions the lack of urgency of action on air pollution in Scotland and calls for more rapid delivery on the ground if the Scottish Government is to make progress on its goal of meeting EU air quality standards by 2020. People continue to die in their thousands because we are failing to meet these standards.

“The Committee highlights a range of transport interventions which could help tackle pollution, including Low Emission Zones, parking levies and further details on the phase out of petrol and diesel cars and vans. The Committee calls on the Scottish Government to explore congestion charging and workplace parking levies, and to invest in cycling infrastructure to increase the proportion of journeys made by bike to 10% and beyond.

“Low Emission Zones are a vital tool which will make our air cleaner and safer to breathe if they are delivered properly. As Glasgow City Council develops its plans for the first Low Emission Zone, due by the end of the year, it needs to set an ambitious example ahead of the Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh LEZs due in 2020.

“We particularly welcome the Committee’s recommendation that private cars should be included in Low Emission Zones. Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone must ensure that all buses, vans, and lorries have the cleanest possible emissions standards by the end of the year in the city centre, with cars and taxis to be included by 2020 at the latest. An LEZ which only includes buses would be very disappointing and would not deliver the step change on pollution that we need.”

Key recommendations included by the Committee in the report:

  • For LEZs to best contribute to improvements in air quality in their respective areas, cars should be included
  • Congestion charging and workplace parking levies may also help to improve air quality and the Committee recommends that the Scottish Government explore these options following the introduction of the LEZs.
  • To meet air quality and wider climate change targets, increasing the number of journeys by bike to 10% and beyond is necessary
    “Cleaner Air for Scotland” (the Scottish Government’s air quality strategy) must be kept under review to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. The report is available from the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. They launched their inquiry into air pollution last June, after hearing from witnesses including Friends of the Earth: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/105527.aspx
  2. The Scottish Government is committed to creating at least four Low Emission Zones by 2020, with the first one due to be in place in Glasgow by the end of 2018. Find out more about Low Emission Zones here: https://foe.scot/campaign/air-pollution/what-is-a-lez/
  3. In January Friends of the Earth revealed the most polluted streets in Scotland: https://foe.scot/press-release/polluted-streets-list-2017/
  4. Health impacts of air pollution:
    Friends of the Earth Scotland estimate that 2500 people die early each year from air pollution in Scotland alone: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/RCP-Report
    Air pollution, at levels seen on Scottish streets, has been linked with:
    *Respiratory illness including asthma and COPD Heart attacks and strokes
    *Low birthweight and delayed development in babies whose mothers have been exposed
    *Poor lung development in children
    *Dementia
    *Children, the elderly, people with pre-existing health conditions, and sick are disproportionately affected by air pollution. (for more, see the Royal College of Physicians’ 2016 report, “Every Breath we Take: The lifelong impact of air pollution”: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution)
  5. Free to use print quality photos of air pollution protesters are available at https://flic.kr/s/aHskiVKDf1
  6. 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.