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Priority for private cars is major barrier to clean air: Evidence to the ECCLR Committee on air quality

Published 09 August 2017 by Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland has recently responded to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee’s call for evidence on air quality in Scotland.

Our response highlights the failings of the Scottish Government and Local Authorities to improve air quality. Despite positive messages from all levels of government on the need to improve air quality, this has to date not been reflected when it comes to the most important decision-making processes, such as capital expenditure on transport in urban areas. Instead of public transport, walking and cycling, investment continues to be prioritised for private cars. This causes severe problems with air pollution, as well as congestion and issues with road safety for people walking and cycling.

Our response outlines a number of other factors which are currently holding back real action on improving air quality, including:

  • Prioritising private cars in towns and cities at the expense of public transport, walking and cycling
  • Failures in the planning system which promote travel by private car
  • A lack of political will to implement demand management in urban areas
  • Rising costs of public transport and falling costs of private vehicle use
  • A lack of consideration and funding for walking and cycling

Jamie Wylie, Communications Officer at Transform Scotland, commented:

“When it comes to air pollution, the Scottish Government has failed to back up its positive messages with real action and funding for low-pollution forms of transport. As a result, towns and cities across the country are still suffering from illegal levels of pollution. 

“The continued prioritisation for private vehicles in our urban areas is clearly a huge barrier to improving air quality in Scotland. The good news is that we don’t need to wait for technology to fix this problem for us — giving priority to public transport, cycling and walking, as well as better planning for new developments, will clean up our air and deliver many other benefits at the same time. The Government now needs to seriously consider its action on air quality if legally-binding targets are to be met.”

The ECCLR Committee’s consultation is open until 18 August.