Air pollution declining in Edinburgh: one of the city's five air quality management areas to be revoked

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Air pollution is falling across the Capital, according to latest statistics.

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And now the council says one of the previous hotspots no longer needs to be an officially-designated air quality management area (AQMA).

Edinburgh currently has five AQMAs declared for breaches of national NO2 objectives – Central, St John’s Road, Great Junction Street, Glasgow Road (Newbridge) and Inverleith Row – and one in Salamander Street for breaching fine particle standards.

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Air quality standards have been met in Inverleith Row for the past three years.Air quality standards have been met in Inverleith Row for the past three years.
Air quality standards have been met in Inverleith Row for the past three years.

But now the Inverleith Row AQMA is set to be revoked after meeting standards for three years running.

A report to the transport and environment committee about the 2020 air quality statistics says the pandemic was a significant factor in reducing levels.

Nitrogen dioxide concentrations fell in all the designated areas. There was one site within the Central AQMA, at East Norton Place, where the annual NO2 objective was breached, compared with 24 monitoring locations in 2019.

For the first time since their declaration there were no breaches in the St John’s Road and Glasgow Road AQMAs.

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Great Junction Street has had no breaches for four years running and the report says the council will consider revoking the AQMA there once the effects of the tram extension and proposed traffic management changes are seen.

Inverleith Row has had three consecutive years of compliance and modelling has predicted a sustained reduction of NO2 concentrations when the Low Emission Zone comes into force. "The council therefore intends to revoke the Inverleith Row AQMA," says the report.

The Salamander Street AQMA also met the annual fine particle objective for the first time since its declaration in 2017.

The council said, however, there were still areas of concern, especially the Central AQMA, though modelling predicted actions such as introducing the LEZ would have a positive impact.

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Transport and environment vice-convener Karen Doran said: "It’s really encouraging to see a consistent fall in harmful air pollutants across the city, so much so that we’ll soon be able to revoke the Inverleith Row AQMA.

"Of course, there’s still work to be done and we’re confident that the LEZ, paired with companies committing to cleaner fleets, improved signalling and modal shift away from private car journeys, amongst other measures, will see the picture improve even further."

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