EC issues UK with 'final warning' over air pollution
Five states, including the UK, have been given final warnings over NO2 levels
Traffic - credit: PA
The European Commission has issued the UK with a ‘final warning’ over illegal levels of air pollution.
Five states, including the UK, have been given final warnings demanding they take action over NO2 levels which breach European air quality legislation.
The EC issued a reasoned opinion concerning persistent breaches of NO2 limit values in 16 UK air quality zones, including in Glasgow.
With Germany, France, Spain and Italy also given formal notices over pollution, the EC warned that if action is not taken within two months it could take the matter to the European Court of Justice.
Member States found to breach air quality limits are required to adopt and implement plans setting out “appropriate measures” to bring this situation to an end as soon as possible.
The EC recommends reducing overall traffic volumes, switching to electric cars and introducing measures to driving behaviour.
It warned much more effort is necessary at local, regional and national levels to meet the obligations of EU rules and safeguard public health.
Friends of the Earth Air Scotland last month warned air pollution constitutes a “public health crisis” after new data showed streets across Scotland continue to register unsafe and illegal levels of pollution.
The data shows there are now 38 pollution zones, where safety standards for air quality are regularly broken, an increase of five compared to last year.
Air pollution, which has been linked with respiratory illness, heart attacks, strokes and dementia, is thought to contribute to 2,500-3,000 early deaths in Scotland each year.
FoE Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “We welcome news that the European Commission has today issued a final warning against the UK Government for their failure tackle our air pollution crisis.
“The Scottish Government is ultimately responsible for making our air safe to breathe in Scotland. Ministers have promised a Low Emission Zone by 2018, and local politicians are beginning to show willing for a zone, but the Government needs to make a public commitment that it will provide funding for these zones.”
The Scottish Government’s draft climate change plan calls for at least 40 per cent of cars and vans to be ultra-low emission by 2032.
Aiming to reduce transport emissions by around a third over the same period, the plan also sets out proposals to trial a low emission zone.
New figures show Scotland hit its annual emissions reduction target for 2015, with transport overtaking energy to become the largest emitting sector for the first time
Despite ambitious headline targets, the draft climate change plan is seen as cautious on transport
Ian Duncan, Conservative MEP for Scotland, on the effect of Brexit on UK environmental protection
Draft climate change plan sets out the Government’s emission reduction strategy over the next 15 years