Polluted streets ‘still poisoning lungs’ in Scotland

Traffic on St John's Road, Corstorphine.
Traffic on St John's Road, Corstorphine.
Share this article
0
Have your say

Environmentalists have named the Scottish streets they say are being blighted by air pollution fumes.

Ten streets across four towns and cities have been revealed as continuing to break Scottish and European air quality standards in 2017, according to figures from Friends of the Earth Scotland (FOES).

Glasgow’s Hope Street was yet again ranked Scotland’s most polluted street for nitrogen dioxide but levels have decreased from 65mcg per cubic metre to 58.

The campaign group examined figures for two key pollutants, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and “particulate matter” (small particles including smoke, dust and dirt, some of which can be hazardous).

Salamander Street in Edinburgh is the worst for particulate matter overtaking Queensferry Road in the capital and Atholl Street in Perth.

FOES described air pollution as a “public health crisis” and blamed it for over 2,500 early deaths every year in Scotland and costing the Scottish economy more than £1.1 billion annually.

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for FOES, said polluted streets were “still poisoning our lungs” despite the legal deadline for improvements almost 10 years ago.

“Once again, streets in Scotland have dangerous levels of toxic pollution, breaking legal limits.

“The situation is potentially showing some slow signs of improvements, but filthy streets continue to poison our lungs nearly a decade after a legal deadline.

“Scotland’s first low emission zone will be in Glasgow by the end of this year, and this will be an important test of commitment to address this problem.”

Ms Hanna added: “Our society is far too car dependent. The Scottish Government and local councils should work together to promote sustainable transport alternatives like walking, cycling, and public transport.

“Only then will we see the step change needed to improve health and adequately tackle the devastating silent killer that is air pollution.”

Glasgow’s low emission zone will be followed by three more in Dundee, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen by 2020.

Three roads in Aberdeen have fallen out of the league tables with Lochee Road in Dundee newly entering the top six along with Clarence Drive in Glasgow. High Street in Crieff has also dropped out.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have committed to introducing low emission zones into Scotland’s four biggest cities between 2018 and 2020, and then into all other air quality management areas by 2023 where the national low emission framework appraisals support such mitigation.

“We will continue to work with industry to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032. We have invested more than £210 million in active travel since the start of the 2011 spending review, and the most recent Programme for Government announced we would double the active travel budget from £40 million to £80 million in 2018-19.”

She added: “Our Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy sets out an ambitious programme of action promoting air quality. Scotland is the first country in Europe to pass legislation based on World Health Organisation guidelines for fine particulate matter.”