Glasgow could be on track to welcome Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone, after voters elected a clear majority of councillors in favour
SCOTLAND’S ENVIRONMENTAL CHARITIES have called on both SNP and Scottish Green councillors elected to Glasgow’s city council to fulfil their manifesto promises for making the city Scotland’s first ‘Low Emission Zone’ (LEZ).
Following the local election results on Friday (5 May), the SNP ended up the largest party on the city’s council ended 40 years of Labour dominance and raising charity hopes that environmental reforms would be top of the agenda.
The SNP and Greens both ran on local manifestos committing to bringing that first LEZ to Glasgow’s Merchant City. The two parties now hold 46 of 85 council seats, with the SNP winning 39 and Greens 7.
LEZs are areas where the most polluting vehicles are regulated. Usually, this means that vehicles with higher emissions cannot enter the area. In some low emission zones the more polluting vehicles have to pay more if they enter the low emission zone. The human health damage from air pollution is estimated to cost the European economy between €427bn and €790bn per year.
The Scottish Government has also promised that Scotland’s first LEZ, excluding the most polluting vehicles from the most polluted areas, will be operational by the end of next year.
“We’ve been encouraged to see so much support for active travel among voters and from parties right across Scotland and we hope that the incoming councillors live up to their pledges.” Sally Hinchcliffe
Speaking to CommonSpace Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES) said: “With a number of councillors elected whose party manifestos supported strong action to tackle toxic air pollution, it looks likely a Low Emission Zone is very much on the cards for the city.
“Air pollution is a health crisis in Glasgow, responsible for over 300 early deaths in the city every year and still at unsafe levels years after a legal deadline. Just last year, 17 out of 28 monitors in the city centre failed the safety standard. With it looking unlikely that any party will have an outright majority in Glasgow, councillors will have to work together to ensure that Glasgow finally gets the clean air it deserves.
“We will work with all parties to push for clean air.”
“With it looking unlikely that any party will have an outright majority in Glasgow, councillors will have to work together to ensure that Glasgow finally gets the clean air it deserves.” Emilia Hanna
According to the charity air pollution from fine particles causes over 2000 deaths every year in Scotland. Public Health England and NHS Scotland have conducted research showing that exposure to fine particle air pollution has caused over 300 early deaths in Glasgow each year.
The SNP and Greens in Glasgow were also the only parties to commit to spending up to 10 per cent of the transport budget on walking and cycling by the end of the council term. In Edinburgh, the previous Labour/SNP administration saw record investment in cycling, which in turn has led to a much larger number of cycling commuters.
The charity We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote, a coalition of organisations that campaigns for more active travel welcomed the chance for a new sense of urgency in Glasgow City Council to promote cleaner travel and for campaign groups such as theirs to be heard.
We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote campaign coordinator Sally Hinchcliffe said: “We’ve been encouraged to see so much support for active travel among voters and from parties right across Scotland and we hope that the incoming councillors live up to their pledges. Local authorities can make a huge difference to whether people choose to leave the car behind and walk or cycle instead – leaving the air cleaner for everyone.”
Picture courtesy of SNP Glasgow CCC group
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