Air pollution was debated today at Holyrood, following Friends of the Earth’s analysis of air quality monitoring which showed that many streets in Scotland are in breach of Scottish air quality standards.

Commenting on the debate, Air Pollution Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, Emilia Hanna said,

“Air pollution is Scotland’s biggest environmental health problem, killing 4 people every day, worsening asthma, and increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It is great that air pollution has been debated today in Parliament and that the Government has been called to account for the slow progress made over the last decade.

“Toxic traffic fumes are the main cause of air pollution. People need to be given better options to walk, cycle, or use public transport, and we need to see ultra low emissions zones rolled out across the country and we saw some strong support for these measures from MSPs. People deserve to live in pleasant cities where they can enjoy spending time outside without risking their health.”

“It is great news that the Environment Minister confirmed that Scotland will control a key pollutant, fine particles (PM2.5). Fine particles alone are responsible for 1500 deaths in Scotland annually so it is absolutely crucial that councils tackle this pollutant.”

“The Government again mentioned a Low Emissions Strategy. This is welcome news, but this Strategy already overdue and the Minister did not say when we might see it. We cannot afford to wait any longer for clean air.

“The Low Emissions Strategy needs to be robust. It must include better provision for walking, cycling, public transport, a framework for low emissions zones, and join up between transport planning and air quality imperatives.

“It is ridiculous that the two main documents on land use in Scotland, Scottish Planning Policy and the National Planning Framework 3 are virtually silent on air pollution. This is really important because new housing developments need to be properly connected to city centres through public transport networks, otherwise they will worsen air quality as people are forced to drive to and from work.”

ENDS

 

Notes to Editors

 

[1] Friends of the Earth’s briefing for the debate is here: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/ParliBriefAirPollutionDebateMarch2014

[2] Friends of the Earth’s analysis of Scotland’s most polluted streets for 2013 is at http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1744

[3] Friends of the Earth 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.