BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 26 September '15

Death toll almost double previous estimates

The number of people being killed of by air pollution every year in Scotland may be nearly twice what was previously thought.

Court action over air pollution – government faces new legal action over deadly air pollution levels

3.5k deaths per year

The UK Government has admitted that up to 52,500 people across the UK are dying early from air pollution each year. Friends of the Earth Scotland estimates that this could mean more than 3,500 early deaths from air pollution in Scotland every year.

‘Air pollution is probably killing more than 3,500 people in Scotland every year, which is nearly twice as many as previously thought.

‘This new health evidence is truly shocking, hugely alarming and demonstrates that air pollution is a major public health disaster.

‘If it emerged that thousands of people were dying every year from disease, crime or drugs, the government would be pouring millions of pounds into saving lives and fixing the cause.’

Emilia Hanna, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner

’Vague’ plans

Previously, only the official death toll from fine particles (PM2.5) was known (29,000 UK-wide, 2000 in Scotland).
 
This fresh figure, which Defra has based on initial discussions with the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP), takes into account deaths from exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which are understood to be 23,500 each year.

‘The Scottish consultation on new Air Quality Plans is incomplete, vague, and lacklustre. The Scottish Government asks the public for our views on a Low Emission Strategy, but this is a draft document which we cannot even see.

‘We are being asked to put our trust in the Scottish Government to come up with a Low Emission Strategy which meets legal obligations. This is a promise which must be delivered.’

Emilia Hanna, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner

Supreme Court verdict

The figure was tucked away in a Defra consultation document for new Air Quality Plans, which the UK Government and Scotland have been required to produce after being chastised by the Supreme Court in April for ongoing dangerous levels of air pollution and breaking a 2010 deadline for safe air.

‘The law requires that the Low Emission Strategy and related regional Air Quality Plans have a clear set of actions to reduce air pollution, specific timetables for action, and estimates of how much each measure will improve air quality.

‘When the Scottish Government launches its Low Emission Strategy in November, the Strategy needs to fully comply with the letter and the spirit of the law. The public deserve more than vague promises and assurances that our air will be clean. We need to know when and how.’

Emilia Hanna, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner

Low Emission Zones

Friends of the Earth Scotland is calling for the Scottish Government to implement fully funded Low Emission Zones in major cities with air pollution problems by 2018, which would see the most polluting vehicles kept out of city centres.

Without funding for local councils to implement these Zones, the Low Emission Strategy will be undeliverable.

Click here to find out more about Friends of the Earth Scotland.