Two more areas of Edinburgh are to be placed under special pollution monitoring because air quality is so poor.
It emerged today that areas around Slateford Road and the South Bridge/Nicolson Street corridor will be added to the watch list of streets breaching legal standards.
But while the number of areas being monitored is growing, there is good news for city chiefs in the fact that overall nitrogen dioxide levels across the city have dropped by eight per cent.
They say the situation in one of the worst pollution hotspots, St John’s Road, has improved so much that it could soon be removed from the list of monitored areas.
Environmental campaigners said today that more still needed to be done, especially as exhaust fumes from buses are contributing more pollution per vehicle than any other form of transport.
Green Party councillor Nigel Bagshaw said the pollution stats highlighted the need for “a rapid sea change” in the number of greener hybrid buses.
He said: “People in Edinburgh have the right to breathe clean air but the council is still at the foot of a very large hill. There is still far too much traffic in the city centre and other hotspots and the extension of the city centre air quality management area is a sign that there is still a huge amount to do.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland labelled air pollution “a silent killer” and called for the introduction of a Low Emission Zone that would ban high polluting vehicles from the city centre.
City transport convener councillor Lesley Hinds insisted the city was heading in the right direction. “We have seen a marked increase in the number of hybrid buses around Edinburgh. Lothian Buses in particular have been incredibly successful in securing funding for clean vehicles and, by co-operating with them, we have been able to target low-emission buses to areas of poorer air quality.
“While the results of the report show a general improvement, there are still small areas where more needs to be done. By extending Air Quality Management Areas to encompass these pockets we will be able to implement a plan of action to reduce pollution and improve air quality for the whole city.”
A spokesman for Lothian Buses said the company had spent over £20m on 65 hybrid buses since 2010, and had older, more polluting buses fitted with special emissions-reducing exhausts. “We’re already planning the next generation of electric hybrid vehicles to bring into service in 2016 which will feature selective zero emission operation. This technological leap will be a game-changer in terms of noise, pollution and carbon emissions.”