Reaction to Scottish Conservatives pro-pollution tour stunt
Friends of the Earth Scotland has reacted with shock and anger to the announcement of pro-pollution tour of Central Scotland by the Scottish Conservatives. The party has hired a van to drive across Scotland protesting against the proposed workplace parking levy, a measure which could save lives, reduce congestion and make our urban areas pleasant places to be.
The tour begins at a care home on Ferry Road in Edinburgh. This home is located in a designated Air Quality Management Area where Edinburgh Council has to take action to cut excessive levels of dangerous air pollution. It is also approximately 1 mile away from one of Scotland’s most polluted streets in Salamander Street.
The details of the levy have not been decided so it is unclear whether they will be driving the van to schools, nurseries, hospitals or near other populations sensitive to pollution.
Questions that journalists who are attend the photo stunt  may be interested to ask:
*How old is the vehicle? / What Euro Standard is it? An older vehicle, or a lower Euro standard, is more polluting.
*In addition to the care home, are they aware there are a number of medical centres, schools and nurseries nearby? Given the impact of air pollution on young children and the elderly, this should be a pertinent consideration.
*Will this polluting tour stop at schools across the central belt?
*2,500 people die early due to air pollution in Scotland every year. The health impacts of air pollution from transport are concentrated in our city centres. Edinburgh has 3 streets still breaching legal limits intended to be met in 2010. Given these facts, is this photo call appropriate?
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner, Gavin Thomson, said:
“Staging a protest in favour of ever more cars on our roads in one of Edinburgh most polluted areas demonstrates a shocking lack of understanding of the air pollution health crisis.
“Air pollution is particularly dangerous to the health of older people and those with existing health conditions. The unnecessary use of a large vehicle outside a care home wilfully ignores the health impacts of air pollution from transport on vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly.
“The Workplace Parking Levy should be welcomed by anyone who wants to make sure our air in towns and cities is safe to breathe. Scotland has a public health crisis due to the air pollution that chokes our towns and cities. The costs to the NHS, and to everyone’s health, of inaction on air pollution are enormous. The vast majority of this toxic air comes from traffic, with pollution generally peaking with rush hour traffic.
“The Workplace Parking Levy recognises the cost of air pollution on wider society, putting the funding into sustainable transport options such as walking, cycling and public transport, which would clean up our cities and improve our health.”
“The workplace parking levy helps achieve a number of goals shared across the political spectrum in Scotland. It can cut harmful pollution, climate emissions as well as raising money to invest in our public transport system.
Notes to Editors
1. Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party press office issued the following embargoed mediacall on Wednesday 20 February.
Embargo: for operational use only – not for publication
The Scottish Conservatives will launch an advertising campaign tomorrow (Thursday) against the Car Park Tax, with the SNP and the Greens set to vote it through Holyrood.
Jackson Carlaw MSP and Miles Briggs MSP will unveil an Ad Van at an Edinburgh care home before it travels across the central belt to workplaces that are set to be hit by the parking charge.
DAY: Thursday, 21 February, 2019
PLACE: Letham Park Care Home, 205 Ferry Road, Edinburgh, EH6 4NN.
Jackson and Miles will be available for interview.
END OF CONSERVATIVE MEDIACALL
2. Friends of the Earth Scotland supports the powers for a workplace parking levy being granted to local authorities. Councils can then decide whether it is appropriate for their area after a thorough assessment which considers existing public transport links, impact on vulnerable groups, and possible exemptions for specific employers.
3. Ferry Road is located in an Air Quality Management Area where Edinburgh Council has brought forward an Action Plan to try and tackle chronic air pollution levels.
4. Evidence of the increased risks of air pollution to older people
5. Friends of the Earth Scotland and 11 other organisations recently co-signed a letter in support of Workplace Parking Levy powers being granted to local authorities. https://foe.scot/resource/letter-support-workplace-parking-levy/
6. In 2018, 4 sites in Edinburgh breached legal limits for air pollution. Queensferry Road (for PM10 and Nitrogen Dioxide), Nicolson Street, and St. John’s Road (both for Nitrogen Dioxide), and Salamander Street (for PM10). https://foe.scot/press-release/scotlands-most-polluted-streets-2018/
7. Friends of the Earth political briefing in support of Workplace Parking Levy (February 2019) https://foe.scot/resource/workplace-parking-levies-briefing-feb-2019/
8. 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.