Sun 1 Oct, 2017

The air pollution in Glasgow, which is consistently breaching legal limits, is a public health emergency which needs dealt with now. Cllr Martha Wardrop

Green councillors in Glasgow have welcomed steps by the SNP administration to implement a key Green manifesto idea with the introduction of a Low Emission Zone to make the city’s air safer and improve the city centre.

Greens in the city chambers have championed the idea of a cleaner, safer city centre since 2012.

As set out in their election manifesto in May, plans include the implementation of local authority targets for carbon reduction, as well as the introduction of low emission zones, with a traffic-free city centre as a long-term aim.

Last week, SNP councillors in the City Chambers put forward plans to consider a phased introduction of an LEZ in Glasgow.

And while the Greens support any move to tackle the growing issue of air quality in Glasgow, they feel that a clear vision for the future of Glasgow’s centre, and other busy areas of the city, is needed.

As well as a chance to tackle the appalling levels of air pollution on Glasgow’s streets, the Greens see the implementation of these measures as an opportunity to re-think public transport options in the city centre, calling for a new joined-up approach to make it easier to get to and through the centre of town.

Councillors point to models elsewhere in Europe, such as the “Clean Air Zones” in Greater Manchester, London, Oxford, and a similar Berlin scheme which bans particularly polluting vehicles from certain areas, as ideas to consider.

Proposals to improve the city’s transport include a revival of the Crossrail project, affordable buses across Glasgow and integrated ticketing.

Whilst backing the introduction of a low emission zone for the city centre, Greens have pushed for any more detailed costed plans and progress on provision of a city-centre low emission zone in the next year. Greens support ambitious targets to improve public health and for the inclusion of all vehicles, not just buses, to encourage all polluting heavy diesel vehicles driving in Glasgow to become cleaner.

Martha Wardrop, the Green group’s spokesperson for sustainability and councillor for Hillhead, said: “The shocking levels of air pollution on Glasgow’s streets affects every one of its citizens.

“This suffering, which contributes to the reduced life expectancies of the city’s population, is completely unacceptable.

“Low-emission zones are something that we have been in favour of for a number of years and convinced other parties in the chambers to get on board as far back as 2012.

“The promise of these zones being in place for the 2014 Commonwealth Games may have been broken but we have not given up the fight.

“Our manifesto in May included a strong commitment to the introduction of low emission zones and we fully intend to deliver on this.

“The air pollution in Glasgow, which is consistently breaching legal limits, is a public health emergency which needs dealt with now.”

Christy Mearns, Green councillor for the Anderston/City & Yorkhill ward, said: “In my ward alone there are two schools which are less than 100 metres from one of Glasgow’s most dangerously polluted streets.

“Exposure to these levels of air pollution at such a young age can cause serious health conditions, such as reduced breathing capacity, or even cancer in later life.

“Implementing low emission zones in Glasgow would go a long way to tackling these health issues, which are undoubtedly caused by a lack of governance over particularly busy areas.

“We have consistently made public statements in favour of a low emission zone and will continue to do so.”

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