Ac­tion is needed to tackle pol­lu­tion

Cri­eff’s High Street a high emis­sions zone

Strathearn Herald - - STRATHEARN VIEW - Lynn Duke

Mid-Scot­land and Fife MSP Mark Ruskell has urged Scot­tish Min­is­ters to pick up the pace on plans to tackle the threat to pub­lic health from traf­fic pol­lu­tion.

There are 38 pol­lu­tion zones in Scot­land where safety stan­dards are reg­u­larly bro­ken, in­clud­ing one in Cri­eff High Street.

The Strath cap­i­tal hotspot is one of two in Perthshire -the other be­ing at Atholl Street in Perth.

In the pro­gramme for gov­ern­ment launched this week min­is­ters an­nounced a con­sul­ta­tion on cre­at­ing a Low Emis­sions Zone in each of the four largest cities by 2020.

Mr Ruskell, who is En­vi­ron­ment spokesper­son for the Scot­tish Greens, this year led a Holy­rood de­bate on air pol­lu­tion, raised it at First Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions and prompted the En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee to plan an in­quiry into the is­sue.

He said: “Traf­fic pol­lu­tion causes lung and heart dis­ease, and thou­sands of pre­ma­ture deaths every year in Scot­land, so the fact that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is slowly wak­ing up to the need for ac­tion shows the ben­e­fit of con­sis­tent Green pres­sure on this is­sue.

“We now need a com­mit­ment to fund Low Emis­sions Zones (LEZ) with lo­cal coun­cils, given we have 38 pol­lu­tion hot spots in com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try.”

Mr Ruskell wel­comed ac­tion in Scot­land’s four largest cities but be­lieves the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment must also work with Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil to en­sure that suf­fi­cient fund­ing is put in place to tackle the ar­eas of poor air qual­ity in Perthshire as both Atholl Street, and Cri­eff High Street are listed among Scot­land’s most pol­luted streets.

He added: “Clearly each area will face its own unique set of is­sues and dif­fer­ent mea­sures may be re­quired to tackle this prob­lem in Perth and Cri­eff than would be in­tro­duced in Glas­gow or Ed­in­burgh. It’s im­por­tant that com­mu­ni­ties are in­cluded in the de­sign of pol­lu­tion ac­tion plans and that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment pro­vide the right tech­ni­cal sup­port and fund­ing.”

“It’s also vi­tal that coun­cils en­sure con­sid­er­a­tion is given to air pol­lu­tion dur­ing the plan­ning process to make sure we don’t see more lu­di­crous de­ci­sions like the ap­proval of huge hous­ing de­vel­op­ments in Scone – which could yet see the vil­lage be­come Scot­land’s 39th air qual­ity man­age­ment area.

“While we await a de­ci­sion on where the first of the LEZs will be, there are ac­tions the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment can take right now to im­prove air qual­ity in our streets. Re­duc­ing the speed limit in built up ar­eas from 30 to 20 mph, as my mem­ber’s bill pro­poses, would sig­nif­i­cantly cut pol­lu­tion from diesel en­gines.

“The re­sponse to my con­sul­ta­tion, from in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions, has been hugely pos­i­tive and I’d en­cour­age the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to of­fer its sup­port.”

Ac­tion call Mid Scot­land and Fife MSP Mark Ruskell

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