Air pollution on decline across Edinburgh

St John's Road, Corstorphine
St John's Road, Corstorphine
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CONCENTRATIONS of harmful air pollutants are decling in the Capital – but there are calls for more to be done to tackle the problem.

Latest figures show an overall improvement in the level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) across the city, with a continued downward trend in its concentration throughout 2016.

But despite the downturn a number of roads were still in breach of national targets, with Leith Street, West Port and London Road among the worst offenders.

It comes as Edinburgh continues to push ahead in its bid to become the first city in Scotland to establish a Low Emission Zone (LEZ), where vehicles which fail to meet set standards would pay a fee.

While the council welcomed the figures, published in its latest air quality update, Green environment spokesman Steve Burgess said they showed more still needed to be done.

He said: “The report to committee says there are hotspots where air pollution breaches safety standards, but the latest figures actually show there are over 20 sites in the city where pollution is not meeting safety standards, mainly in the city centre and Leith.

“This failure to bring pollution under control and protect public health has been going on far too long. Green councillors recently won council support for a low emission zone in the city. We’ll be pushing to get this in place as a council priority.”

Six Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) are currently in operation in Edinburgh, with five for NO2. A sixth was declared in Salamander Street earlier this year for the particulate PM10.

According to the figures, a number of roads recorded higher NO2 concentrations than the annual 40µg/m³ or less target.

Levels of NO2 came in at 59µg/m³ in both West Port and Leith Street, while London Street/East Norton Place recorded 57µg/m³. Other roads in breach of the national target included Torphichen Place and South Bridge.

However, in respect of PM10, concentrations at Salamander Street met tighter Scottish objectives for the first time since monitoring began in 2009.

The city council said it was “committed” to continuing the downward trend for NO2.

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “I am pleased to see a continued downward trend for nitrogen dioxide and particles across the city, including the Central Air Quality Management Area, which has been rigorously monitored since being declared for traffic-related pollution.

“We are committed to continuing this trend, and as such several projects to address poor air quality are currently underway. Just this week, Lothian Buses launched a fleet of six brand new fully electric vehicles.

“We are also working closely with the Scottish Government to make Edinburgh one of the first Low Emission Zones in Scotland, with a view to accelerating our progress to delivering cleaner air for the Capital.”