Poor Air Quality in Cities

– in the Scottish Parliament on 8th May 2013.

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Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

15. To ask the Scottish Government how it is reducing the health impacts of poor air quality in cities. (S4O-02089)

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government supports a number of measures, both local and national, to tackle air pollution successfully. They include the establishment of a statutory framework and clear strategic aims for air quality and transport; supporting the development of renewable energy; providing grant funding for local authority actions; and providing advice and information through the Scottish air quality website and Scotland’s environment web.

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

The minister describes a framework of measures that is clearly failing to provide air that is fit to breathe in some of our cities. Glaswegians and our many visitors—who will of course arrive in great numbers next year—are subjected to the worst air quality in the whole United Kingdom. In fact, Glasgow is the fifth worst city for air pollution in the whole of Europe.

Will the Government accept that air pollution is a public health issue that needs much greater action and not buck passing to local authorities or to Europe, where the rules are set? Will the Scottish Government acknowledge that far more needs to be done, given that councils have such an abysmal record in providing air that is fit to breathe for people in Scotland?

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

I am sure that everyone would agree that improving air quality is important. A range of measures has been progressed nationally and locally, and improvements have been made in some areas. However, I recognise that, in some areas, that improvement has not been as fast or at as great a level as some members would like. I have no doubt that my ministerial colleagues with the environment and transport portfolios will continue to progress measures to drive up standards of air quality in Scotland in the years to come.