Breath of fresh air as Edinburgh’s air quality improves

But although Nitrogen dioxide concentrations are going down, there’s no room for complacency, warns transport convener 

People living and working in Edinburgh can expect a breath of fresh air because air quality in the Capital is getting better, according to a new report to the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee.

A progress report to be considered at the committee’s meeting on 17 January contains data collected in 2015, indicating that Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is showing an overall improvement in Edinburgh, while concentrations within the city’s Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) are also going down.

A similar downward trend has also being observed with particle (PM10 and PM2.5).

Early figures for 2016 suggest a continuation of this improving trend, for example in St John’s Road and on Glasgow Road at the Newbridge Roundabout.

These figures come as work is finalised to introduce a new AQMA in Salamander Street, Leith, to tackle higher than acceptable PM10 concentrations, which are thought to result from industrial processes in the area. The Salamander Street AQMA will come into operation on 20 January 2017.

Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Hinds today welcomed the improving trend in Edinburgh’s air quality but warned against complacency.

She said: “Although these figures are a welcome and very encouraging sign that our efforts to combat air pollution in Edinburgh are paying off, we cannot and must not be complacent.

“Air pollution remains one of the main threats to ‘quality of life’ in Edinburgh and this Council continues to work extremely hard to address pockets of poor air quality in the city.

“We are currently working on a range of projects to encourage sustainable transport and to improve our own fleet to reduce emissions.

“We monitor air quality continuously across the city and Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) enable us to direct actions more effectively at specific locations.

“Measures to make walking, cycling and public transport as attractive as possible will greatly benefit the Capital’s air quality and quality of life.

“We’re delivering one of Scotland’s longest and most ambitious protected cycle-way schemes in the City Centre West to East Link and with 10% of the entire transport budget going on cycling projects in the coming financial year, we’re making significant investments in active travel provision.

“As well as reducing congestion through improved traffic flow, another key strand of our Air Quality Action Plan and Local Transport Strategy is promoting cleaner transport, especially buses.

“Lothian Buses, the largest bus provider in the Capital, have made great strides in making their fleet much more energy efficient. The company is also looking to introduce a number of electric-powered vehicles for use in the city centre, while other bus operators in the city have also made improvements to their fleets.”

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