Action is needed from the Scottish Government to prevent a surge in air pollution when lockdown is lifted, said Scottish Greens Environment Spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP this afternoon.
Speaking at a virtual questions session Mr Ruskell highlighted the huge improvement in air quality in towns and cities since emergency measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus were introduced, warning that access to clean air is vital as the lockdown is lifted.
Mark Ruskell MSP said:
“The unprecedented response to the coronavirus emergency has dramatically reduced the air pollution on our streets. Scotland has 38 hot spots that regularly breach legal pollution levels, but the lockdown measures have drastically reduced the pollution on each of these streets.
“The Scottish Government must ensure that as lockdown is lifted we don’t simply allow things to go back to the way they were. We know that poor air quality is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Access to clean air will be vital to support both physical and mental health as we exit lockdown. It is also extremely pressing as evidence suggests exposure to air pollution may make it more likely for an individual to catch COVID-19.
“Ministers’ have promised that Scotland’s four biggest cities would have low emission zones, a promise that is now more important to deliver than ever as a direct response to this public health emergency.
“In recent weeks we’ve seen a huge increase in people walking and cycling for their daily exercise or trip to the shops, rather than use the cars. It’s vital we do all we can to continue this trend as lockdown is gradually lifted, and once this emergency has passed.”