More Action Required on Air Quality in Inverness

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Thursday March 1 2018

Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie (pictured) has called for the Scottish Government to take greater action to tackle air quality across the Highlands following the publication of an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament's Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee.

The Committee raised a number of concerns about the Scottish Government’s approach to tackling poor air quality, however it was acknowledged that the government’s Cleaner Air for Scotland Strategy was a move in the right direction.

The Committee’s inquiry raised concerns around the practical support and incentives that are in place to deliver action on the ground.

Questions were also raised about the Scottish Government’s ability to meet with the EU air quality targets for 2020.

Resourcing at local government and with SEPA was also highlighted by the Committee, while it was noted that they may not have the adequate powers to enforce any practical measures.

The Committee also questioned whether the proposed timescale for a trial Low Emission Zone (LEZ) to be introduced in 2018 was realistic given the lack of technical and financial resources available to local authorities.

The inquiry also highlighted that the impact of agricultural processes on air quality needed to be examined.

There is currently one Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) in Inverness.

These are areas where air pollution regularly breaches legal limits.

John Finnie said:

“I am pleased that the committee have undertaken Scotland’s first inquiry into poor air quality and that the findings have now been published.

“Poor air quality is associated with more than 2500 deaths each year in Scotland and it is clear that action taken so far has been insufficient.

“There are 38 air quality hotspots across the country, including Inverness City Centre.

“These are areas where air pollution regularly breaches legal levels.

“It is vital that robust action is taken to address these issues as quickly as possible.

“The Scottish Government has some good policies in place to tackle poor air quality.

“The Scottish Greens welcome the roll-out of low emission zones – but as the Committee report highlights, these will only work if government provides local authorities with the necessary cash and technical expertise to implement them properly.

“It is also important that relatively simple fixes such as making bus services more attractive to the public – by ensuring they are reasonably priced and adequately serve communities - and replacing the most polluting buses with new low emission alternatives are looked at.”

“People in Inverness and across the country have the right to live, work, or go to school in areas where they know they won’t contract serious health problems simply by breathing in dirty air.

“It is long overdue that serious action was taken to tackle this silent killer.”



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