SCOTLAND’S environmental ambitions will come under scrutiny at Holyrood today.
Politicians will debate the nation’s air pollution problems following a recent report by the Environmental Climate Change and Land Reform Committee.
It called into question the timescales proposed to alleviate the “crisis” as come campaigners have already put it.
That is likely to include fall out from the announcement over Glasgow’s first plans for its Low Emission Zones.
The plans were greeted by a howl of protests from campaigners who reacted angrily to what they say was soft touch control in buses and commercial vehicles – largely blamed for creating toxic air in the city.
They apportion that to premature deaths and health problems.
The Scottish Government plans to improve air quality by 2020 to meet EU standards.
Currently there are 38 so called ‘pollution zones’ where Scotland is in breach of these levels, with air pollution claimed to cost 2500 lives.
Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said today’s event was crucial in focussing minds on the problem.
He said: “Illegal levels of air pollution in Scotland are creating a public health emergency.
“People in Scotland have a legal right to clean air but we are not on track to meet the Scottish Government’s target of clean air by 2020.
“So far we have seen only desperately low ambition in the proposals for Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone.
“The Environment Committee did a great job of analysing the failings of the current approach to air quality and we look forward to hearing how the Scottish Government is going to step up to deliver its own clean air target.”
He added: “Top priority must be to make sure that Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone, to open in Glasgow at the end of this year, is as effective as possible.
“A very recent commitment of Scottish Government cash means that the current lacklustre proposals can be made much more ambitious before they are finalised in a month or two.
“Glasgow must set a good example or it will endanger the ambition of the LEZs to follow by 2020 in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh.
“For Low Emission Zones to be a success, emissions from buses, vans, lorries, cars, and taxis must all be cleaned up in urban centres as quickly as possible.
“In Glasgow, this means that within a year, all buses running through the city centre should be meeting the latest emissions standards, and other vehicles should be included in the zone as soon as possible thereafter.”
WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: Parliamentary Briefing – air pollution debate/FOES
IMAGE CREDITS: Ian Macnicol / Friends of the Earth Scotland