Environmental group questions low-emission zone plans

Air pollution is mainiy caused by traffic. Picture: Roberto Cavieres
Air pollution is mainiy caused by traffic. Picture: Roberto Cavieres
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An environmental organisation has questioned the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce a low-emission zone in just one city.

ClientEarth has called for “urgent clarification” on cleaner air plans as it said three Scottish cities are forecast to have pollution outwith legal limits until at least 2020.

In a letter, it welcomes the proposal for a low-emission zone in 2018 in one yet to be revealed Scottish city but seeks further details on action across the rest of Scotland.

The environmental law organisation – which has twice successfully challenged the UK Government’s response to illegal air pollution levels – said UK Government figures project Glasgow will have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide until 2024, while both Aberdeen and Edinburgh will hit the legal limit by 2020. Detailed proposals for the country’s first low-emission zone are due later this month, but ClientEarth claims it is currently not clear where the first zone will be or how legal limits will be met in other areas.

ClientEarth lawyer Anna Heslop said: “We’re confused as to why their plans contain measures that will only help people in one Scottish city.

“We want to know what the First Minister will do to protect people across Scotland, in all the places where people are suffering from breathing toxic air.”

ClientEarth is calling for a national network of low-emission zones to keep the dirtiest diesel vehicles out of the UK’s most polluted urban areas.

Emilia Hanna, an air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “ClientEarth is absolutely right to ask why they are proposing only one low-emission zone when illegal and dangerous levels of pollution continue to plague many towns and cities in Scotland, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth.

“The Scottish Government needs to finalise the details of its first low-emission zone straight away and commit to introducing low-emission zones in all Scottish cities with illegal air pollution.”

She also called on the Government to do more to make transport “cleaner and fairer” as air pollution is mainly caused by traffic.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “We acknowledge there are still specific areas of our towns and cities where levels are too high.

“That’s why we have plans in place to make further progress and have already set more stringent air quality targets than the rest of the UK.

“We acknowledge the important role which low-emissions zones can play, and we are working to have Scotland’s first low-emission zone in place next year”