Responding to the launch of Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone, Gavin Thomson, Air Pollution Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland commented:

“300 premature deaths are caused by air pollution in Glasgow every year.  This ‘No Ambition Zone’ fails to apply any restrictions to 4 out of 5 buses and fails to impact on any other polluting vehicles entering Glasgow city centre.  Fumes from transport in the centre of Scotland’s biggest city will carry on poisoning people’s lungs for many years.

“The signs may have gone up but almost nothing has changed in Glasgow. The Zone will only require an improvement in a tiny number of buses to meet the first year’s target, so the Zone will have done nothing more than would have happened anyway. Despite the offer of public money, private bus operators in Glasgow have been allowed to drag their heels, and people will suffer as a consequence.

“There are good things happening in Glasgow. The expansion of the cycle network, the Avenues project, and the forthcoming pedestrianisation of George Square, will all help encourage sustainable transport and improve air quality. But the buses need to be cleaned up. Glasgow City Council need to push the bus companies to stop polluting, and move more quickly to include all vehicle types in the Zone, to protect the health of Glaswegians.”

Low Emission Zones were first recommended for Glasgow in 2008, and then promised and not delivered for the 2014 Commonwealth Games [1]. Glasgow was named in a UK Supreme Court ruling on illegal air pollution back in 2015, and the Court ordered urgent and immediate action to tackle pollution [2].

Notes to Editors

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-28177743
  2. https://www.documents.clientearth.org/wp-content/uploads/library/2015-09-17-the-uk-supreme-court-ruling-in-the-clientearth-case-consequences-and-next-steps-ce-en.pdf
  3. Free to use, print quality photos of an air pollution protest outside Glasgow City Chambers in March are available at https://flic.kr/s/aHsmgcCDZd
  4. Friends of the Earth Scotland blog critiquing the LEZ plans, before they were agree by Glasgow City Council: https://foe.scot/glasgow-lez-not-progressive/
  5. Glasgow still has illegal levels of air pollution eight years after a binding legal deadline: https://foe.scot/press-release/polluted-streets-list-2017/
  6. A report commissioned by Transport Scotland estimates that there were just over 800 buses in Glasgow in 2017. Approximately 15% of these (125 buses) were already Euro 6 in 2017. 83% of the buses were Euro 3,4, or 5 (683). https://www.transport.gov.scot/media/43653/developing-cost-estimates-for-low-emission-zones-in-scotland-sept-2017.pdf These older, non-compliant buses could all have new exhaust systems retrofitted, for which there is government support available.
  7. Friends of the Earth Scotland estimate that 2500 people die early each year from air pollution in Scotland alone: https://foe.scot/press-release/new-research-means-2500-deaths-a-year-in-scotland-are-from-air-pollution/
  8. 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
    *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