The Scottish Parliament will today debate Scotland’s air pollution crisis in response to a recent Inquiry by the Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. The Committee’s report:

  • questioned the lack of urgency of action toward delivering the Scottish Government’s target of meeting EU air quality standards by 2020
  • highlighted a range of transport interventions to tackle pollution, including Low Emission Zones
  • concluded that, for LEZs to be effective, cars should be included
  • called on the Scottish Government to explore congestion charging and workplace parking levies, and greater investment in cycling infrastructure

Air pollution is estimated to claim 2,500 lives in Scotland each year and there are 38 pollution zones where air quality regularly breaches legal standards. Initial plans for the country’s first Low Emission Zone, in Glasgow, have been severely criticised for lacking ambition and offering little change.

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, commented,

“Illegal levels of air pollution in Scotland are creating a public health emergency. People in Scotland have a legal right to clean air but we are not on track to meet the Scottish Government’s target of clean air by 2020. So far we have seen only desperately low ambition in the proposals for Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone.

“The Environment Committee did a great job of analysing the failings of the current approach to air quality and we look forward to hearing how the Scottish Government is going to step up to deliver its own clean air target.

“Top priority must be to make sure that Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone, to open in Glasgow at the end of this year, is as effective as possible. A very recent commitment of Scottish Government cash means that the current lacklustre proposals can be made much more ambitious before they are finalised in a month or two. Glasgow must set a good example or it will endanger the ambition of the LEZs to follow by 2020 in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh.

“For Low Emission Zones to be a success, emissions from buses, vans, lorries, cars, and taxis must all be cleaned up in urban centres as quickly as possible. In Glasgow, this means that within a year, all buses running through the city centre should be meeting the latest emissions standards, and other vehicles should be included in the zone as soon as possible thereafter.”

Notes to Editors

  1. Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Debate: Air Quality in Scotland Inquiry Tuesday 17th April 2018 https://bb.parliament.scot/#20180417
  2. FoE Scotland briefing for the debate https://foe.scot/resource/ecclr-air-pollution-debate/
  3. ECCLR Committee Report: https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/Committees/Report/ECCLR/2018/2/28/Air-Quality-in-Scotland-Inquiry
  4. Press Release accompanying their report http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/107886.aspx
  5. FoES reaction to the ECCLR Committee report https://foe.scot/press-release/enviro-committee-urges-action-air-pollution/
  6. Free to use, print quality photos of a recent air pollution protest in Glasgow are available at https://flic.kr/s/aHsmgcCDZd
  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.