Ministers to review clean air strategy amid criticism current approach is “woefully short on action”

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 7 November 2018 in News

Ministers in Scotland launched the Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy in 2015, with the newly announced follow up review aimed at assessing the progress made over the last three years and providing recommendations on future policy

Image credit: Lewis Whyld/PA

The Scottish Government has launched a review of its clean air strategy amid criticism the current approach is “woefully short on action”.

With the European Commission having issued the UK with a ‘final warning’ over illegal levels of air pollution in February 2017, the High Court then ordered the UK Government to outline its air pollution strategy.

Ministers in Scotland launched the Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy in 2015, with the newly announced follow up review aimed at assessing the progress made over the last three years and providing recommendations on future policy.

But with parts of Scotland also found to have illegal levels of pollution, ministers have come under fire from both environmental and health campaigners.

Meanwhile, in March, Scottish Environment LINK said it had “no alternative” but to resign from the Scottish Government’s air quality governance group, warning that a culture of “denialism, apathy and foot dragging” has meant “missed opportunities and unnecessary loss of life”.

A steering group will be given responsible for setting the content of the review, which is likely to focus on transport, industrial, domestic and agricultural emissions as well as health, planning, and relevant business issues.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “There is a clear relationship between air pollution and human health impacts, and although we have made significant progress over recent years, more remains to be done.

“The Scottish Government is determined to drive down pollution levels, which is why I am delighted Professor Campbell Gemmell has agreed to chair a wide ranging independent review into our ambitious Clean Air for Scotland strategy.

“The review will bring together research being undertaken by the British Heart Foundation in Edinburgh and others elsewhere to determine how we, as a nation, can take further positive steps to mitigate the impact of this hugely important subject.”

Both Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland and the British Heart Foundation welcomed the review.

FoE Scotland campaigner Gavin Thomson said: “2,500 people die early each year in Scotland due to air pollution. It causes heart and lung problems and is particularly dangerous for our most vulnerable groups, such as the very young, the elderly and people who are already in ill health. This health crisis needs to be tackled urgently, and we need structures in place that can deal with the challenge.

“Apart from Low Emission Zones the Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy was woefully short on action. Scotland won’t meet the air quality targets that have been set and something needs to change. We very much welcome a review of the strategy to accelerate ambition and action, and commit the resources needed to deliver clean air for all.”

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