Scottish Parliament debates air pollution

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 18 November 2015 in News

Scottish Government required to produce air quality strategy after UK fails to meet European legal air quality limits

The Scottish Parliament will debate air pollution today, for the first time since the publication of the Scottish Government’s Air Quality Strategy.

The Scottish Government was required by the UK Supreme Court to produce the strategy after the UK failed to meet European legal air quality limits by a 2010 deadline.

The document, ‘Cleaner Air for Scotland – The Road to a Healthier Future’, commits the Scottish Government to improve monitoring and modelling of air pollution, adopt World Health Organization guidelines on particulate matter pollution in legislation and work to increase awareness of the problem.


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Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoE) called for specifics on how the Government would meet European air quality limits by 2020.

Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “Today in Parliament, the Scottish Government need to confirm commitments that government officials made to introduce low emission zones in Scottish cities by 2018 at the latest. Low emission zones exist in around 200 cities in Europe and have been proven to reduce air pollution. The Government must also clarify that it will provide the funding for local councils to implement such zones.

“There are still 32 pollution zones in Scotland where air pollution levels are breaking safety standards that should have been met years ago, and at least 2,000 people in Scotland are dying early every year from toxic air, so it is crucial that in today’s debate the Scottish Government is questioned hard on when all Scottish air quality standards will be met.”

FoE Scotland previously warned the new strategy is still in breach of the European Ambient Air Quality Directive.

The Scottish Government’s ‘Cleaner Air for Scotland’ report estimates that, across the UK, the impact of poor air quality on health costs around £15bn per year. It found the total annual cost of air pollution to the UK’s economy may be as much as £54bn.

In Scotland in 2010 fine particulate matter was associated with around 2,000 premature deaths and around 22,500 lost life-years across the population.

Levels of air pollution are breaking health standards in 32 official pollution zones across Scotland, including in parts of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen.

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