Air Pollution Branded "National Disgrace''

4 July 2017, 08:16 | Updated: 4 July 2017, 08:19


Campaigners claim polluted air in Scotland is a "national disgrace'' and a "public health crisis''.

The country's worst polluted streets were revealed earlier this year, with St John's Road in Edinburgh and Hope Street in Glasgow found to be in breach of the European legal limit for nitrogen dioxide.

Holyrood's Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee is holding an inquiry into Scotland's air quality and is inviting views on whether enough is being done to tackle pollution.

Committee convener Graeme Dey said: "Scotland has taken great strides towards having the cleanest air in Europe, but we must take air quality seriously in order to achieve our ambitious targets.

"Not only can poor air quality impact our natural environment and wildlife, but it is also bad for our own health and is especially harmful for the young, elderly and people who already have heart and lung conditions. In fact, recent evidence suggests air pollution may be a contributory factor to 15,000 early deaths in Scotland each year.

"As part of our new inquiry, the committee wants to hear whether Scotland is doing all that it can to tackle toxic gases and how this fits into the overall plans to cut pollution within the UK and EU.

"It's crucial that we have the best policies in place so that we can breathe clean air and protect the health of our future generations.''

Friends of the Earth Scotland director Richard Dixon welcomed the review, saying: "Air pollution in Scotland is a national disgrace, with thousands of people dying, a billion pound cost to the economy, and health targets that should have been met years ago.

"Fifty years ago pollution was mainly from factories, but now by far the largest source of air pollution problems is traffic in our urban areas.''

Green MSP Mark Ruskell, whose Member's Bill on cutting urban speed limits to 20mph is currently open to consultation, said: "To see the number of air pollution hot spots in Scotland rising rather than falling shows that this is a public health crisis, and I'm delighted that the Environment Committee will take evidence on the issue and hold the Scottish Government to account.

"Ministers are far too quick to pat themselves on the back for what they think is helpful spending on walking and cycling, when the reality is it's a drop in the ocean compared to the billions they are pouring into measures that encourage more car use and more traffic pollution, which in turn causes heart attacks and lung disease.''