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Inverness has 'illegal' air pollution, claim


By Tom Ramage


Friends of the Earth Scotland has ranked the country’s most polluted streets for 2019, and Inverness' Academy Street appears among the worst offenders.

It's a first appearance on the environmental campaign group’s list but the street has been a concern for the Council for many years.

The area around Academy Street was designated a Pollution Zone in 2014 but it appears that Highland Council efforts to improve air quality have been unsuccessful.

Air blow for Highland capital rating
Air blow for Highland capital rating

Campaigners say the illegal pollution levels are a result of "years of enormous Government funding for road schemes and a failure of private companies to provide reliable, affordable public transport."

The factors have created the conditions forcing people into cars and driving up pollution levels, conservationists claim.

Official air pollution data for 2019 was analysed, looking at two toxic pollutants which areprimarily produced by transport.

Indications are that legal air safety standards which should have been met in 2010 are being breached at 7 monitoring stations across Scotland.

The European Ambient Air Quality Directive set a limit for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre, so 6 sites are breaking the legal limit.

The latest table shows:

Glasgow Kerbside (Hope Street) /55.63

Edinburgh Nicolson Street /48.81

Dundee Seagate /43.90

Inverness Academy Street /43.32

Dundee Lochee Road /42.50

Edinburgh St John's Road /41.93

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner, Gavin Thomson, said: “These figures are shameful. They indicate a step backwards for Inverness and a failure to address air pollution, which causes serious health conditions such as asthma, heart attacks, and strokes.

“Our transport system is unsustainable. It is harming our lungs, and worsening the climate emergency.

"In our cities, we urgently need to make walking and cycling the easy choice for everyone who is able. To help people leave the car behind, we must prioritise public transport with greater investment as well as interventions that improve both reliability and affordability for users.

“Highland Council should consider a Low Emission Zone for Inverness, while introducing other measures to reduce car use in the city.

"The proposed dualling of the A96 is a perfect example of resources going in the wrong direction - it should be halted as soon as possible.

"If we don’t start prioritising greener transport over fossil fuelled cars, we’ll keep burning the earth and keep forcing people to breathe in toxic fumes."

The group claims that everyone is at risk from toxic traffic pollution, with children and the elderly are at particular risk.

"By ending the chokehold of cars on our public spaces, we can open up our streets to walking, cycling and create healthier, safer communities.”

Dr Astley Hastings, a member of the A96 Action group, commented: “I am always alarmed to hear about the air pollution from traffic, especially the greenhouse gases that we cannot see and smell that are damaging our climate.

"Other damaging pollutants such as particulates and Nitrogen Oxides that we are all breathing in are impacting our lung and heart health.

“We clearly need to think about our transport system.

"The huge spending on new roads should be stopped, as that will only worsen air pollution, even with partial electrification of cars.

"The proposed dualling of the A96 is a perfect example - it will create more carbon emissions, and cause more air pollution.

"If we care about our health, and about the planet, it should be stopped and the money used to improve rail and hydrogen bus infrastructure.”

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