Campaigners have welcomed today’s publication of the draft Low Emission Strategy but caution that the plan for clean air will be undeliverable without full funding. [1]

Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said:

“We urgently need clean air in Scottish cities, and the Low Emission Strategy could be the blueprint that delivers it. But the Strategy will be toothless unless it commits to a date by when air quality will meet Scottish safety standards and unless it has serious funding attached to it.

“The Government’s budget plan for the coming year is to spend £3.15 million to tackle air quality, but this is the same as this year so there is no extra cash to deliver the new Strategy. Meanwhile, air pollution costs the Scottish economy £1.6 billion and causes 2000 early deaths annually. A little more could go a long way.” [2], [3]

Figures published by Friends of the Earth Scotland last week revealed that Scottish streets are still breaking Scottish and European clean air standards.[4]

Traffic fumes are the main source of air pollution. Friends of the Earth Scotland has called for the government to invest more in walking, cycling, improving public transport, and rolling out Low Emission Zones across Scotland. Low Emission Zones are where the most polluting vehicles are banned from key areas of cities and have proven to be successful in several major European countries including London.

“A key part of the Low Emission Strategy is to produce a Framework for Low Emission Zones in Scotland. Cash-strapped councils will not be able to make serious plans for Low Emission Zones without additional resources.”

When the Strategy is finally published, Friends of the Earth Scotland want it to include:

A clear commitment to a date before 2020 by which Scottish cities will have clean air

Additional funding for local authorities to be able to implement Low Emission Zones, improve walking and cycling infrastructure, and retrofit or upgrade bus fleets.

A Framework to roll out Ultra Low Emission Zones in cities across Scotland, so that the cars, LGVs, HGVs and buses are excluded 

Targets to increase the number of journeys taken by public transport, walking, and cycling

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] The Government’s Draft Low Emission Strategy is at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2015/01/3287

[2] DEFRA estimates that the cost of air pollution to the UK economy as a whole is £16 billion per year: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/protecting-and-enhancing-our-urban-and-natural-environment-to-improve-public-health-and-wellbeing

[3] Public Health England’s research on the mortality burden of fine particle air pollution is available at http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317141074607. The Scottish figures are in Table 3.

[4] FOES Press Release – Sunday 11 January 2015 – Revealed: Scotland's most polluted streets http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/air-pollution-streets-2014

[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. www.foe-scotland.org.uk