Environmental campaigners have expressed their grave concern over plans to delay action to clean up air pollution. Air pollution claims around 2,500 lives in Scotland each year but the Scottish Government has just announced an 18-month delay to their Low Emission Zone plans from December 2020 to May 2022.

The Low Emission Zones were first announced in the 2017 Programme for Government. Three years on, restrictions have only been applied to buses in Glasgow.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Director Dr Richard Dixon said:

“This shocking delay shows that Scottish Government and Councils are not serious about urgent action on air pollution. Everyone understands that the pandemic has delayed action in many areas but people in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh are now expected to wait more than a year longer for just the first steps in cleaning up the air they breathe. In Glasgow plans to tighten up the standards for buses and to extend the zone to cover other vehicles are also delayed.

“Today’s announcement isn’t even a firm commitment, just a promise to try to meet the extended deadline. Next week’s Programme for Government must address the inadequacy of low emission zones in light of this latest setback, and the increased need to fix air pollution. These changes mean the timetable for future tightening of the Zones is under threat. The date by which cars will be included must not be allowed to slip further and Councils should think about expanding the Zones to protect more people.”

“Scottish cities are years behind legal deadlines in meeting air pollution standards and people have suffered toxic traffic fumes and ill health for long enough. There is a growing evidence base on the links between air pollution and vulnerability to Covid-19. Pollution from traffic causes and exacerbates many of the heart and lung conditions that put people at heightened risk from the virus. ”

“The Scottish Government has also failed to bring forward a plan or any funding for eventually improving these to Zero Emissions Zones, as pledged in 2019. The longstanding need to take action on air pollution to improve public health has only been heightened by this crisis. Equally, the current shutdown has exposed the need to reform our transport system and highlighted the fact that so much public space is dominated by polluting cars.

“Transport is our most polluting sector in terms of climate emissions so this decision to delay action on fossil fuelled cars in cities further jeopardises our ability to meet our climate commitments at both national and local levels. “

ENDS


NOTES TO EDITORS

New indicative timeline for introducing Scotland’s Low Emission Zones
https://www.transport.gov.scot/news/new-indicative-timeline-for-introducing-scotland-s-low-emission-zones/

Delay to LEZ plans was first announced in May 2020 https://foe.scot/press-release/low-emission-zone-delay-puts-everyone-risk-campaigners/

Low Emission Zones in Scotland’s 4 biggest cities were promised in the 2017 Programme for Government https://foe.scot/press-release/prog-govt-2017-reaction/

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 5,000 local activist groups.