Much more must be done to tackle air pollution, says Roseanna Cunningham
Scottish Government marked Clean Air Day by releasing an update on its Clean Air for Scotland strategy
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Much more needs to be done to tackle dangerous levels of air pollution in Scotland, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has said.
The Scottish Government marked Clean Air Day by releasing an update on its Clean Air for Scotland (CAFS) strategy, including plans to introduce Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone by 2018.
Air pollution claims over 2,500 lives in Scotland each year, and an estimated 40,000 throughout the UK annually.
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There are 38 Pollution Zones, declared by councils to be at risk of dangerous levels of air pollution across Scotland. The number rose from 35 in 2015.
New figures show that 81 per cent of Scots believe it is important to tackle air pollution, yet only 28 per cent have taken steps to reduce the air pollution they create.
Between 2006 and 2014, the proportion of people walking to work fell from 13.8 per cent to 12.9 per cent. The proportion using buses as their usual mode of transport dropped from 11.8 per cent to 10.2 per cent. Car use increased over the same period.
The 2016/17 draft budget contained plans for £35.9m in spending on active travel and over £800m on trunk roads.
Friends of the Earth Scotland Air Pollution Campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “Clean Air Day is an opportunity for the Scottish Government and local councils to demonstrate they are committed to tackling this health crisis by putting proper transport policies on the table which will tackle the scourge of dirty air on our streets.
“To give us the clean air we need, the Scottish Government must commit to Low Emission Zones in all our main cities, re-regulate bus companies to increase passenger numbers, and increase walking and cycling by making 20mph the default speed limit in cities whilst investing more in active travel infrastructure.”
In a report covering progress on improving air quality, the Scottish Government highlighted how Scotland became the first country in Europe to adopt in law the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on fine particulate, while creating four new Air Quality Management Areas, bringing the total to 38 in Scotland.
It also developed an app which advices people about alternative routes to help reduce exposure to pollution.
The Scottish Government created the National Walking Action Plan and an updated Cycling Action Plan to encourage people to move away from using cars.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “A year on and the package of actions set out in Scotland’s first clean air strategy is clearly helping people and encouraging them to think about ways of improving the quality of air in our communities. But we can’t be complacent and recognise much more needs to be done.
“National Clean Air Day is an opportunity to think about the small actions we can take, such as choosing to leave the car at home more often or avoiding leaving the engine idling when in the car. Employers should also be encouraging staff to travel in a more sustainable way.”
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Like all of Scotland’s most insidious problems, air pollution hits the most vulnerable in society the hardest