No Room for Excuses in Tackling Air Pollution

A Scottish Green Councillor has called for more ambition from Glasgow's decision makers in the implementation of low emission zones in the city.

Councillor Martha Wardrop told a public meeting that the Glasgow's poor air quality was a 'blight on the city'.

The gathering, organised by the city's Scottish Green Party branch, saw politicians and campaigners come together to discuss the ways that Glasgow's disgusting air quality can be improved.

Councillor Wardrop and city MSP Patrick Harvie were among the speakers who expressed concerns about this, and also called for more to be done in the implementation of low emission zones in the city.

They were joined by Friends of the Earth's Emilia Hanna and active travel campaigner John Chivall.

Due to be brought to a meeting of the city's Administration Committee in June, the current plans for low emission zones in the city were criticised by both Scottish Green politicians and speakers, who said that the council's plans did not do enough to stem the appalling pollution affecting Glasgow's residents.

A lack of concrete timeline, with a provision goal of starting plans within four years, was said to be 'making a mockery' of commitments made to improve Glasgow's pollution issue, and was 'condemning the city to failure'. The proposal was also said to be lacking any plans to tackle car usage in the city, with speakers keen to put the introduction of congestion charges back on the agenda.

However, it was the lack of determination in the plans to clean up Glasgow's buses that was most concerning. With £7.56m set aside by the Scottish Government to aid in the retrofitting of cleaner exhaust pipes to the city's buses, Councillor Wardrop said that there was no room for excuses in improving the city's fleet.

Councillor Martha Wardrop said: "The retrofitting of buses and ensuring that Glasgow's buses are compliant with European air quality guidelines is a big issue and there is money available to tackle this.

"We are pushing for this to improve and we are concerned that companies will use these upgrades as an excuse to push up their prices. We now know that this £7.56m would be enough to retrofit 75% of the city's fleet in under a year without costing the bus companies a penny.

“This scheme would also create jobs and hugely benefit the people of Glasgow, so this is something we are looking to improve now. There is money available and we need to see some courage from councils in acting on this.

“I have been supporting the introduction of low emission zones since 2012. This has been a five year effort to date and we are likely to have another five years of hard work ahead of us. Green councillors are fully committed to LEZs and we are very passionate about it.

“Hope Street and other areas with illegal levels of air pollution are blights on this city and we can't afford to put up with it any longer. We are the voice of the walkers, the cyclists and those who use public transport in Glasgow and we have the ability to influence the decision about the future of low emission zones.”