Care home works blamed for Queensferry Road air pollution rise

St John's Road has high levels of air polution caused by traffic. Pic: Steven Scott Taylor
St John's Road has high levels of air polution caused by traffic. Pic: Steven Scott Taylor
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EDINBURGH City Council will not set up  a seventh Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in the Capital after an increase in harmful particle matter was blamed on the construction of a care home.

The council’s air quality annual progress report reveals that “long term trends show concentrations are going down for both nitrogen dioxide and particles”.

But the findings also show there are still “a number of hotspot areas where legal standards are breached”.

Environmental campaigners have called for an ambitious Low Emission Zone (LEZ) to be set up to tackle the “toxic, illegal levels” of air pollution.

The Capital currently has six AQMAs – five for nitrogen dioxide and one for particle matter. Tiny particle matter can be breathed in and enter the blood – causing damage to the heart and lungs. and even low levels put people at risk.

Particle matter tests at the Barnton end of Queensferry Road revealed a breach of  Scottish standards – but the council will not set up another AQMA, even though the 24-hour concentration target was exceeded eight times throughout the year.

The annual progress report said: “There was poor data capture at Queensferry Road due to a number of issues with the analyser throughout the year.

“The council has decided that it would not be appropriate to declare an AQMA in this location at this time considering these circumstances, however the investigations will continue.”

Salamander Street has experienced a slight increase in particle matter, amid  a long-term downward trend – put down in part to “concrete crushing activity” at the Albert Docks for construction of the St James Centre.

Gavin Thomson of Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “Air pollution is still at toxic, illegal levels across Edinburgh with very little progress being made in pollution hotspots. Twenty two sites in the city are breaching legal air quality limits, most due to have been met a decade ago.

“These figures will bolster the case that we need a Low Emission Zone that covers the entire city and which restricts the most polluting vehicles from entering.”

By the summer, the council hopes to revise its current nitrogen dioxide air quality plan alongside a new city mobility plan – as well as develop specific Low Emission Zone proposals in early 2019. An air quality action plan for Salamander Street AQMA will also be produced.

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “There’s definitely an improving picture for air quality in Edinburgh, with long-term trends showing concentrations of nitrogen