Reacting to the launch in parliament of the 2015-2016 budget today, Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

“The Government’s failure to invest in clean air measures will ultimately cost lives. Traffic-related air pollution is creating a public health crisis and is responsible for 2000 premature deaths in Scotland every year.

“The Government is consulting on a new Low Emission Strategy right now and the Budget could have given that Strategy a kickstart. Instead, we will have to wait an extra year for the Government to back clean air measures.

“The lack of serious spending on tackling air pollution will end up costing us all. Air pollution costs the Scottish economy around £1.6 billion annually in healthcare spending and days lost at work.”

The Scottish Government pledged just £3.15 million, the same as last year, to air quality measures compared with almost £700 million towards building new roads.

“To tackle air pollution local councils need to roll out Low Emission Zones but these require around £1 million to start up and £500,000 in annual running costs. Cash-strapped councils should not be expected to bear the brunt of these costs without Government support. An extra £3 million in the budget for air quality could have gone a long way.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] The Scottish Budget was announced to the Scottish Parliament this afternoon.

[2] Friends of the Earth Scotland revealed Scotland’s most polluted streets 2014 (January 2015) http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/air-pollution-streets-2014

[3] The Westminster Environmental Audit Committee announced in December 2014 that air pollution was 'causing deadly public health crisis' http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30349398

[4] Research estimates that exposure to air pollution causes almost 29000 deaths in the UK and over 2000 deaths in Scotland annually (see “The Mortality Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Particulate Air Pollution in the United Kingdom”, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil… and Public Health England, “Estimating local mortality burdens associated with particulate air pollution”, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/estimating-local-mortality-bu…).

[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