City of Edinburgh Council has produced an action plan containing a number of measures to improve air quality. The Scottish Government is working closely with the council as it implements the measures that are contained in the plan, and it is providing practical and financial assistance both to monitor air quality and to support delivery of the measures. As was announced in the 2017-18 programme for government, the council will establish a low-emission zone in Edinburgh by 2020.
The cabinet secretary will be aware that, in the 2015 British Lung Foundation survey of lung patients, 40 per cent of respondents said that they had bought a diesel car because it was better for the environment and 48 per cent had bought one because it was cheaper to run. Can the cabinet secretary tell me what plans the Scottish Government has to invest in schemes that will help private car owners to make cleaner decisions instead of simply charging them to go to work?
Jeremy Balfour will be aware that the Government has done a great deal of work to ensure that, for example, there is a really good network of electric vehicle charging points, which will encourage the take-up of electric vehicles, and that we begin to see a reduction in the number of vehicles that contribute to poor air quality. However, notwithstanding the real issues that there are around air quality, the fact is that the average level of man-made PM2.5
, which is due mainly to road traffic, reduced by 22 per cent across Scotland between 2010 and 2016. Although there is a great deal still to do, a great deal has already been done.
In its stage 1 report on the Transport (Scotland) Bill, the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee recognised that low-emission zones could result in the most polluting vehicles being pushed into neighbouring areas, causing increased congestion and air pollution. What analysis has been carried out to identify areas of potential displacement? What support will be provided to affected local authorities?
The member will be aware that the introduction and management of low-emission zones is a matter for the local authorities that are progressing them. I anticipate that information on the issue that Mr Golden raises will be among the information that local authorities gather to ensure that the creation of such zones does not create bigger problems for them. However, that will be a matter for their management. If the member has a particular proposed low-emission zone in mind, I strongly advise him to contact the relevant local authority to ask it what its proposals and intentions are.
I know that the issue of displacement could be a particular problem in Edinburgh, because of the situation there, but I am absolutely certain that City of Edinburgh Council is already considering that issue as well as the other issues that it will have to take on board before it introduces a low-emission zone.