Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Scotland meets air pollution limits thanks to clean air zones

A Low Emission Zones has been set up around Scotland (David Cheskin/PA)
A Low Emission Zones has been set up around Scotland (David Cheskin/PA)

New information has been released showing Scotland did not breach legal air pollution limits in 2022 for the first time, excluding the impact of Covid lockdowns in 2020.

Legal air quality standards came into force in 2010, but have been broken every single year with the exception of 2020 when the lockdowns resulted in a big drop in car journeys.

Environmental campaigners say the improvement in air quality in Scotland’s cities shows the early benefits of Low Emission Zones (LEZ). The biggest improvements were seen in Glasgow, where the LEZ is already up and running.

Friends of the Earth Scotland analysed official air pollution data for 2022, looking at two toxic pollutants that are produced by transport. The provisional data suggests that air quality across Scotland was within legal limits in 2022.

The European Ambient Air Quality Directive set a limit for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

The results are shown below:

  • Glasgow Hope St - 39.24
  • Edinburgh St John's Road - 29.26
  • Perth Atholl Street - 29.15
  • Dundee Lochee Road - 29.10
  • Glasgow Byres Road - 27.53
  • Edinburgh Queensferry Road - 26.86
  • Aberdeen Union Street - 26.50

The Scottish annual statutory standard for particulate matter (PM10) is 18 micrograms per cubic metre and several areas in Scotland are below this.

Renfrewshire Johnston High Street had the lowest rate at 12.88, while Perth Atholl Street had the highest at 15.89.

In 2021, Glasgow’s Hope Street broke the legal limit for diesel pollution, and has seen one of the biggest improvements this past year.

Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone began in 2019, restricting polluting buses. Now every bus going through the city centre has to meet the minimum emission standard, with private cars to follow in June this year.

The Scottish Government has provided grants for buying new buses or retrofitting older buses to met the criteria.

Gavin Thomson, transport campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It’s great that progress is being made to improve some of our most polluted streets.

“People in Glasgow can breathe a little easier as a result of the Low Emission Zone and fewer polluting vehicles in the city centre. The buses along Hope Street these days are often electric, which are better for the climate and for our lungs.

“The Low Emission Zones coming to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee will bring similar improvements and protections for public health – but for Scotland’s other cities such as Inverness and Perth, toxic air pollution persists with no clear plan for addressing it.

“When it comes to air pollution, we know what works. Councils need to invest in walking, wheeling and cycling, and take control of public transport. Every city with a pollution problem should be looking at Low Emission Zones.”

Air pollutions puts the population at risk of serious health issues such as asthma, strokes and heart attacks.

It can be especially harmful to children, the elderly, and people living in poverty or made vulnerable from other health conditions.

Joseph Carter, head of Asthma and Lung UK Scotland, said: “It is good news this year that air pollution on our streets has been kept within its legal limits, yet there is obviously more that can be done. We need the Scottish Government to make tackling air pollution a national priority.

“Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to public health. At a cost of £1.1 billion per year to the NHS, it is draining our resources, straining our health system and cutting short over 2,500 lives a year in Scotland.”