Lib Dem hands out safety masks on polluted street

A HOLYROOD candidate handed out protective safety masks on Scotland's most polluted street as he launched a campaign to reduce emissions.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 20th January 2016, 10:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th January 2016, 10:31 am
Alex Cole-Hamilton dons a gas mask to get his message across on St John's Road. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Alex Cole-Hamilton dons a gas mask to get his message across on St John's Road. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Alex Cole-Hamilton, Liberal Democrat hopeful for Edinburgh Western, has set out a five-point plan to tackle the crisis on St John’s Road in Corstorphine.

His recommendations come after a report published over the weekend found pollution levels were nearly at 50 per cent over European safety standards.

Mr Cole-Hamilton is lobbying the city council and the Scottish Government to adopt his plans to slash the level of harmful pollutants. Describing the pollution levels in Corstorphine and on Queensferry Road as a “national disgrace”, he added: “They represent a clear and present threat to public health, yet the SNP, who have been in charge of this city and this country for nearly a decade, continue to drag their heels.

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“Almost 2000 Scots die prematurely each year as a result of vehicle emissions and nowhere is this risk more present than in communities that span the arterial routes into Edinburgh.

“Investment in my plan will actually save our country money in the future in terms of reduced demand on health services and days lost to work through illness.”

His plan includes:

n Weekly spot checks of emissions by council enforcement officers plus fines imposed on drivers with vehicles operating outside legal levels.

n Accelerated roll-out of and investment in electric and hybrid buses on all public transport routes.

n A “fundamental increase” in investment in active travel, including improvements in the cycle path network and safe walking routes.

n A complete moratorium on housebuilding on the green belt in West Edinburgh to prevent a further increase in congestion levels on arterial routes.

n Increased investment in public transport links serving the airport and outlying villages, including a direct bus route to the city centre from Kirkliston and South Queensferry and the introduction of an airport bus along the Queensferry Road corridor.

Meanwhile, Emilia Hanna, Air Pollution Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the council needed to fast track plans for a Low Emission Zone in the city, with the funding needed to create one coming from the Scottish Government.

She added: “A Low Emission Zone is an area where the most polluting vehicles are banned from entering and if they do enter they have to pay a fine. There are over 200 such zones throughout Europe and they have proven to be successful in improving air quality, yet there are still none in Scotland.

“Years after we first started reporting these figures, progress remains too slow. The council needs to prioritise cleaning up our air and that means taking a consistent approach, and pressing on with more drastic actions to meet safety standards as soon as possible.”