GAS-GUZZLING cars could be banned from town centres in Scotland or face charges as part of a strategy to clean up polluted air quality levels.

The creation of Low Emission Zones (LEZ) are among the measures being proposed to deal with dozens of pollution zones in Scotland and could be in place in just three years, a Scottish Government report indicates.

Communities affected by dangerous levels of pollution have been waiting too long

Alison Johnstone

But campaigners have hit out after the Cleaner Air for Scotland Strategy indicated air quality levels are unlikely to be cleaned up by 2020. 

“Scotland will still be waiting for clean air well beyond 2020,” said Friends of the Earth pollution campaigner Emilia Hannah.

It is estimated that traffic-related air pollution is responsible for 2,000 premature deaths in Scotland every year.

The LEZ proposals would be developed by local councils in partnership with the Scottish Government. It could mean the creation of “minimum emission standards” for cars in these areas. High emission cars could either be banned completely or face charges to enter, the report suggests.

Ms Hanna added: “There are 200 Low Emission Zones in European cities, so it is encouraging that officials now suggest that we could see these on the ground in Scotland by 2018.

“Low Emission Zones will only happen if government helps local councils with dedicated funding.”

In German cities like Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt am Main, Hanover, Leipzig, Osnabrück and Stuttgart, vehicles without an approved green sticker, which drivers must apply for, are banned from entering LEZs.

The Scottish Government has committed to meeting European legal air quality limits across Scotland by 2020, but there is no firm commitment in the report to tighter, Scottish air quality standards by 2020.

Climate change minister Aileen MacLeod said: “In recent decades polluting outputs have been reduced – but despite these efforts, pockets of poorer air quality still remain in many of our towns and cities.

“Cleaner Air for Scotland is our first distinct air quality strategy. It sets out actions across government portfolios that will further reduce air pollution, with a particular emphasis on protecting human health and reducing health inequalities.”

The Scottish Green say that about £3 million is being spent this year on air quality measures compared to £700 million on building new roads.

Greens Lothians MSP Alison Johnstone said: “Successive governments and ministers have paid lip service to this public health scandal. 

“Communities affected by dangerous levels of pollution have been waiting too long for practical action and serious investment.”

SOURCE: The Scotsman

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