Friends of the Earth Scotland have welcomed further details on the Scottish Government’s commitment to introduce Low Emission Zones in Scotland’s four largest cities by 2020. Speaking in Edinburgh this morning (6/9/17), Humza Yousaf launched a new Low Emission Zone Consultation, in a move which is set to tackle Scotland’s illegal air pollution, understood to cause over 2,500 early deaths across the country each year.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Air Pollution Campaigner, Emilia Hanna, said:

“We welcome the launch of a new Low Emission Strategy by the Scottish Government. Air pollution from traffic is a major threat to people’s health in Scotland, responsible for over 2,500 premature deaths each year, and is linked with respiratory and cardiovascular illness, impeded foetal development, and even dementia.

“Low Emission Zones will require that in the most heavily polluted parts of the city, vehicles will need to meet strict emissions standards or face a fine. These life-saving interventions will not only improve public health, but will make urban centres more pleasant places for people to spend their time. Low Emission Zones exist in over 200 European cities and towns and have proved successful in tackling air pollution.”

In the draft plans for LEZs, the Scottish Government announced an Air Quality Fund to support local councils with Pollution Zones, and pledged the introduction of an Engine Retrofitting Centre in Scotland. However, it stopped short of a firm commitment to help to jointly fund LEZ infrastructure with local councils.

“The Scottish Government looks much more serious in its desire to tackle air pollution through today’s announcement, but needs to make a firm commitment to jointly fund LEZs with local councils. After all, it is the Scottish Government’s legal responsibility to bring air quality levels to within safety limits.

“The Scottish Government has made a commitment to introduce the first LEZ by 2018, but needs to announce the location of that zone as soon as possible if it is to have a chance of being delivered on time. The obvious place for the first LEZ is Glasgow, because it has the highest death toll from air pollution, with over 300 people dying early from toxic air each year.”

Today’s announcement follows yesterday’s Programme for Government announcement, which was heralded by Friends of the Earth Scotland as the greenest ever Programme for Government.

“Overall, the new Programme for Government, coupled with this announcement, signals a step change on transport which will make it cleaner, fairer, and more geared towards cutting climate emissions and boosting air quality. The commitments, which span electric vehicles, walking and cycling, and improving public transport, need to be delivered on and strengthened but we are optimistic about the direction of travel.”

Notes to Editors

[1] Scottish Government Press Release 6/9/17 ‘Consultation launched on Building Scotland’s Low Emission Zones’ https://news.gov.scot/news/consultation-launched-on-building-scotlands-low-emission-zones The LEZ consultation can be found at https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/transport-scotland/building-scotlands-low-emission-zones/user_uploads/low-emission-zones-consultation-2.pdf

[2] At the same time that Yousaf was launching the LEZ Consultation, Nicola Sturgeon and Roseanna Cunningham were at Glasgow Riverside Museum discussing technological innovation in transport. https://news.gov.scot/news/scotland-a-low-carbon-leader

[3] Today’s announcement follows yesterday’s Scottish Government’s Programme for Government. For FoES reaction to the PFG, visit https://foe.scot/press-release/prog-govt-2017-reaction/.

[4] Levels of air pollution across several parts of Scotland continue to break European legal limits and Scottish standards years after a legal deadline: https://foe.scot/press-release/scotland-s-most-polluted-streets-revealed-5-new-pollution-zones-declared/ Glasgow has been named in several legal actions for failing to comply with EU limits on air quality.

[5] 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-authority-areas-associated-with-air-pollution

[6] 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.

[7] 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.