ENVIRONMENT Minister Aileen McLeod yesterday promised that a new national strategy on cleaner air would help tackle pollution from traffic in Scotland’s towns and cities.
McLeod announced the publication of Cleaner Air for Scotland – The Road to a Healthier Future at the Scottish Transport Emissions Partnership (STEP) annual conference.
“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,” she said.
“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.
“Through Cleaner Air for Scotland we will adopt the World Health Organisation guideline values for particulate matter in Scottish legislation – making us the first country in Europe to do so.
“I want us to demonstrate our level of ambition but at the same time learn from good practice elsewhere.”
Following the VW emissions scandal, McLeod added there are challenges to overcome as a result of emerging evidence around the under-performance of EU diesel vehicle emission standards, as well as breaches of emissions-testing regulations by some manufacturers.
“We will develop a national air quality awareness campaign to inform key audiences and encourage behavioural change,” she said.
“We cannot achieve the aims of Cleaner Air for Scotland alone – public participation and engagement is essential if we are to deliver change.”
A recent report said air pollution was a public health concern and that some 3,500 Scots die every year as a result of breathing in poor quality air caused by vehicle exhaust fumes.
Yesterday, The National revealed that 10 streets in Scottish cities were on target to break legal limits on the amount of toxic emissions in the air around them, including St Johns Road in Edinburgh.
Alison Johnstone MSP, the Scottish Greens’ health spokesperson, said: “Communities affected by dangerous levels of pollution have been waiting too long for practical action and serious investment,” she said.
“If we repeat the failure to invest seriously in walking, cycling, 20mph zones and low-emissions public transport, we will simply add to the strain on our health, our NHS, and our economy.”
We must strive to improve the air quality in Scotland
SOURCE: The National