Reacting to news that the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee are launching an inquiry into air pollution, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“Air pollution in Scotland is a national disgrace, with thousands of people dying, a billion pound cost to the economy and health targets that should have been met years ago. Fifty years ago pollution was mainly from factories, but now by far the largest source of air pollution problems is traffic in our urban areas.

“It is excellent news that the ECCLR Committee will be looking in detail at how Scotland can do more to tackle air pollution. This inquiry is very timely since the UK and Scottish Government will be challenged again this week in the High Court over the weakness of their clean air plans. From transport spending priorities, roads and public transport, walking and cycling to how we design our cities there are many areas that the Committee can get its teeth into.

“The Scottish Government has promised a Low Emission Zone by the end of next year and Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow are all keen to have the first of these Zones. The government is committed to the first one but the Committee can help get clarity on exactly how this will be delivered and on the process for other areas to get the next zones. ”

“Air pollution endangers the most vulnerable in our society – the young, the elderly and those with existing health problems. Toxic air has been linked with heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and even mothers giving birth to babies prematurely and with reduced birthweights.

“Tackling air pollution by getting cars off the roads will deliver huge co-benefits in terms of reducing climate emissions. Transport recently became the single biggest source of greenhouse gases in Scotland, with figures still stuck around 1990 levels.”


Notes to Editors

1. The ECCLR committee have had a sub-committee looking at air pollution issues and held an evidence session, including Friends of the Earth Scotland in May 2017 http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10923

2. Air pollution in Scotland: Tackling a public health crisis, FoES Briefing June 2017 http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/air-pollution-briefing-jun17

3. There are 200 Low Emission Zones across Europe where the most polluting vehicles get fined if they come into the protected area. London has had a LEZ since 2008 and Sadiq Khan has pledged to extend it. The Scottish Government is committed to having the first Scottish Low Emission Zone in place by the end of 2018. This would initially cover buses, lorries and large vans.

4. ClientEarth have twice defeated the UK Government in court over their inadequate plans to tackle air pollution. They announced that they will tell the High Court this week that plans to tackle air pollution in the devolved nations are “inadequate”. 1st July 2017 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-40467159

4. Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2015 (Scottish Government figures 13 June 2017) p26 shows breakdown by sectors https://news.gov.scot/news/statistics-on-scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissio…

5. Ten key facts on air pollution in Scotland http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/national-clean-air-day

6. Free print quality photos of air pollution activists are available at https://flic.kr/s/aHskiVKDf1

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.