Transport campaigners have welcomed the launch of Edinburgh Labour’s election manifesto today, which sets a high standard for all parties across Scottish cities in the forthcoming election. It promises to maintain record support for walking and cycling, and introduce a Low Emission Zone in order to deliver a cleaner, healthier city. Scotland’s capital has battled with dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution for many years, with motorised transport the key culprit.

Additionally, the manifesto includes commitments to:  

– increase the number of electric buses on Edinburgh’s roads

– aim to complete the tram line to Newhaven

– introduce a cycle hire scheme

– create a dedicated budget for walking to help pedestrians

– keep Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams in public ownership

– lobby the Scottish Government for powers to be able to introduce workplace parking levies

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner, Emilia Hanna, said:

“Edinburgh Labour’s vision for transport is transformational and holistic, and we urge all parties in all cities to put people’s needs at the heart of these elections. By making it easier for people to walk, cycle, use the bus or the tram, politicians can transform urban environments and deliver cleaner air, healthier people, and thriving local economies.

“We warmly welcome Edinburgh Labour’s promise to introduce a Low Emission Zone, should they win the election. They now join the Greens in this pledge, and we urge all Edinburgh parties to make the same commitment.

“Edinburgh has six Pollution Zones where invisible yet toxic pollution from traffic is damaging our health.  A Low Emission Zone would go a long way to improving the situation in Edinburgh. Edinburgh’s Low Emission Zone should initially ensure that buses, lorries and large vans meet clean emission standards in the city or pay a fine. To make this happen, the Scottish Government must come up with some cash to help deliver this life-saving scheme.”

Pedal on Parliament Organiser Sally Hinchcliffe said:

“Pedal on Parliament are delighted to see that Edinburgh politicians are continuing to provide sustained, predictable investment in cycling and other active travel. Edinburgh's investment is already beginning to show in rising numbers cycling but there's still a long way to go. When it comes to creating a cycle-friendly city, where even children can ride a bike easily to school, it's only just begun. This April we'll be pedalling in four cities across Scotland, including Edinburgh, to encourage all local politicians of all parties to follow Edinburgh's lead.”

Spokes Campaigner Dave du Feu said,

“The policies of the existing council have succeeded, with cycle use rising and  inner-city car commuting falling, and so Spokes is delighted that the Labour manifesto continues and enhances these policies.  The 10% transport allocation for cycling investment is unique in the UK, and it is excellent to see a range of new policies including a city bike hire scheme, a dedicated budget for new pedestrian facilities, and increased funding for potholes and road resurfacing.The one additional area we would like to see is a transformation of Princes Street to a more pedestrian and cycle-friendly place, and Spokes will be lobbying whichever parties are in power after the election for this.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1.    Labour’s manifesto can be viewed at http://www.edinburghlabour.com/manifesto2017

2.            Pedal on Parliament will ride again on 22nd April in Edinburgh and Aberdeen and 23rd April in Glasgow: http://pedalonparliament.org/

3.            Spokes, the Lothian Cycle Campaign, has praised the Council’s Transport Strategy for delivering an increase in cycle rates and a drop in private cars. A traffic survey conducted by spokes in November 2016 found a 4.5% increase in the number of bikes and a 10% drop in private cars against the previous year: http://www.spokes.org.uk/2016/11/traffic-count-highest-ever-november-bike

4.            Health impacts of air pollution:

– Friends of the Earth Scotland estimate that 2500 people die early each year from air pollution in Scotland alone: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/RCP-Report

– 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

– Dementia

– 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)

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, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.