Scotland's leading environmental campaign organisation reacted to the news that the European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for its failure to cut excessive levels of Nitrogen Dioxide, a toxic gas.
Friends of the Earth Scotland Air Pollution campaigner, Emilia Hanna, said, “People are literally dying in Glasgow from lung and heart problems linked to exposure to air pollution. For too long, the UK government has got away with breaking European legal limits on air pollution which are designed to protect us from this silent killer.
“Today’s announcement from Europe confirms that the UK government has no plan for how to clean up Glasgow’s air. This should send a strong message to the people of Glasgow that they deserve better.
“The Scottish Government now needs to step up. It must introduce a national strategy for clean air which commits to a date by when Scotland’s air will be clean.
“Glasgow’s air pollution is mainly caused by traffic congestion, with motor vehicles spewing out toxic and cancer-causing chemicals. That’s why we need Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to make better provision for walking and cycling, clean up public transport, and put restrictions on the most polluting vehicles through ultra low emissions zones.
“As host of this year’s Commonwealth Games, Glasgow needs to be seen as an example of a healthy and vibrant city where people can breathe clean air, but there is a long way to go.”
1. The European Commission’s Press Release is available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-154_en.htm
2. Under EU law Member States agreed to ensure compliance with hourly and annual limit values for Nitrogen Dioxide by 1 January 2010 (Under UK law, this limit was to be achieved by 2005). Under the Directive, the UK was allowed to ask for a 5 year extension to this limit, on the condition that it has a credible and workable plan for how to achieve air quality standards by 2015. The UK applied for time extensions, but has declared that air quality standards will not be met until 2020 in Glasgow and other affected areas across the UK, and not until 2025 for London, triggering legal action.
3. A recent study by Friends of the Earth Scotland revealed Scotland’s most polluted streets. It showed that Glasgow’s Hope Street is Scotland’s most polluted street for Nitrogen Dioxide. http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1744
4. Glasgow City Council has declared that air pollution levels are above UK standards in four pollution zones called Air Quality Management Areas across the city. The declared pollution zones are: City Centre (for exceedences of the annual legal limits for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Small Particles (PM10), and for hourly limits of NO2), Parkhead Cross the east end (declared for exceedences of annual legal limits for NO2), Byres Road/Dumbarton Road (exceedences for annual mean of NO2), Citywide, spanning the entirety of the city, for exceedences of PM10 annual and hourly limits. For more information on Glasgow’s pollution zones, see http://www.scottishairquality.co.uk/laqm.php?m=2&a=l&la_id=373&a=l
5. Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups. www.foe-scotland.org.uk