Scotland’s most polluted streets revealed

Friends of the Earth Scotland has published their annual list of Scotland’s most polluted streets, showing which parts of Scotland are failing to meet legal standards for clean air.

Glasgow’s Hope Street came out on top, with the charity blaming the heavy traffic loads along the street, particularly older, diesel buses, HGVs, taxis and vans. Friends of the Earth Scotland says it is far above the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide and call Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) a ‘No Ambition Zone’ that ‘won’t do much to address this for a long time.’

Edinburgh’s Queensferry Road is the worst for particulate matter pollution. This is a key arterial road for Edinburgh, carrying heavy traffic all day every day. However, it is also a built-up residential road wiith residents who live on or near Queensferry Road exposed to illegal levels of air pollution.

Data also shows that Dundee’s Seagate and Lochee Road are again failing to meet standards due to have been met in 2010. Three key locations in Aberdeen also came perilously close to breaking the law.

When speaking to AirQualityNews last week, Cllr Anna Richardson of Glasgow City Council defended the council against criticism of the LEZ, which will initially only tackle buses.

‘It would be lovely to go to zero emissions tomorrow [for all vehicles], but the consequences for business and people in our city would have a disproportionately large negative impact and that’s something that we have to mitigate,’ she said.

Scotland’s first low-emission zone (LEZ) came into effect in Glasgow on New Year’s Eve.

The first phase of the LEZ will mean 20% of all buses that pass through the city must now meet emissions standards that comply with EU standards.

Phase Two will come into effect in December 2022 and will apply to all vehicles entering the zone. The scheme is being enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).

Low Emission Zones were first recommended for Glasgow in 2008, and then promised and not delivered for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Glasgow was named in a UK Supreme Court ruling on illegal air pollution back in 2015, and the Court ordered ‘urgent and immediate’ action to tackle pollution levels in the city.

The Scottish Government has pledged to introduce Low Emission Zones into Scotland’s four biggest cities; Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee between 2018 and 2020.