Many people 'unaware of their own contribution to pollution'

Written by Ryan Latto on 6 December 2017 in News

Low Emission Zones to tackle air pollution will require public awareness, ministers tell MSPs 

Roseanna Cunningham and Humza Yousaf - Scottish Parliament

Persuading the public to help tackle air pollution is “one of the main challenges” facing the Scottish Government, according to environment minister Roseanna Cunningham. 

Appearing in front of Holyrood's environment committee, Cunningham said she had been “heartened by the extent to which local authorities are wanting to talk about low emission zones” but warned that the wider public “don’t necessarily relate their actions to poor air quality”. 

The European Commission launched legal action against the UK in 2014 for failing to meet air quality laws, with Scotland required by the UK Supreme Court to produce a clean air strategy setting out how it would reduce dangerous levels of pollution. 

Cunningham said: “The biggest challenge here is to get this message across to the wider public who don’t necessarily relate their actions to poor air quality. They might have a real concern about pollution, but they are not necessarily connecting concern with their actions. Persuading the wider public that they do have a role to play is one of the main challenges of this Government.” 

Air pollution can cause up to 2,500 early deaths in Scotland. The Government aims to create ‘Low Emission Zones’ in Scotland’s four major cities: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, to achieve all European Air Quality objectives by 2020.  

Cunningham said: “We are confident that our air quality already compares well with the rest of the UK and Europe and in some areas, we are already compliant.” 

She was joined by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, who admitted: "One of the biggest challenges will be dealing with the private motor car."  

Attempts to introduce new congestion charging and work place parking levies would be unpopular, he warned. 

He also suggested Scottish Government efforts to shift freight from road to rail to tackle air pollution issues across Scotland are “going very well”. 

 The minister said: “We are on the cusp of some exciting projects – particularly on timber, food and drink, whisky and other produce. This can really open the floodgates for a number of other schemes to be developed.” 

However, questioned by committee convener Graeme Dey about Government plans to implement freight consolidation centres, the transport minister said: “They haven’t quite had the impact on reducing pollution that people would have liked them to have.” 

Other agendas were discussed to comply with low emissions zones such as increased spending on ‘Active Travel’ infrastructure, promoting the use of electric bicycles and cars, and assisting public transport providers to provide hybrid or electric buses.

Yousaf said: “When I speak to bus operators on the market they are all greening their fleet. For different companies there are different solutions, but so far we’ve helped to green over 362 vehicles to date.” 

The air quality standards are set out by the European Ambient Air Directive and the Government is aware that their proposals lie outside of the potential Brexit leave date. Cunningham said: “We want to continue with the status quo and I do not want to see Scotland lagging behind post-Brexit”. 

Tags

Categories

Related Articles

WWF Scotland and the British Lung Foundation call for low-carbon infrastructure investment
28 August 2017

With the Queensferry Crossing set to open to traffic this week WWF Scotland and the British Lung Foundation urged ministers to invest in projects which create green jobs, boost the...

Keeping Scotland's homes warm and healthy is one of the best investments we can make
19 October 2017

Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance Scotland, on how new regulation and planning controls, backed by market incentives, could improve the energy performance of...

ClientEarth calls for clarity on Scottish Government air pollution plans
3 August 2017

ClientEarth warns that unless ministers take tougher action then Aberdeen and Edinburgh will not meet legal limits until 2020, and Glasgow will not comply until 2024

Scottish Government accused of showing "remarkable disregard for public health” on air pollution
26 July 2017

Environmental groups accuse UK Government of “kicking urgently needed action into the long grass” with plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040

Share this page