Pollution Experts Quit Scottish Government Role Over “Culture of Denial”
Two top environmental policy experts have quit the Scottish Government’s clean air strategy team the Cleaner Air for Scotland Governance Group after years of frustration with the lack of ambition.
Professer James Curran and Emilia Hannan represented Link - an alliance of 35 Scottish environmental groups. But after the plans for Glasgow were criticised as a ‘no-ambition zone’ when it was revealed that only the most polluting buses would be banned from the city centre, frustration with slow progress reached a breaking point.
In a resignation letter, Link said:
“For two years the Link representatives have made every constructive effort to inject ambition and urgency into the creation of Low Emission Zones in Scotland. At nearly every single stage they have felt frustrated by lack of progress."
Professor Curran, a former chief of Scottish Environment Protection Agency, added:
"Recently the Scottish government created an ambitious, strategic and tightly managed national system to tackle flood risk - and now funds it with over £40m per year. Sadly there is no similar determination to tackle air pollution which is directly causing thousands of premature deaths.”
Responding to the pair’s departure, Scottish Labour's Shadow Cabinet environment spokesperson, Claudia Beamish said:
“This is a real blow to the SNP’s environmental credentials, but it is unsurprising as there is huge frustration at the government’s lack of urgency around tackling air pollution - it seems to be failing to take the impact on public health seriously.”
“I have regularly highlighted my concerns about the lack of funding from the Scottish Government to properly set up Low Emission Zones. The first LEZ is for Glasgow and this should be an exemplar for the following four, but very worryingly it is not. The timescales are far too long for some actions including the arrangements for the shift to low carbon buses, and there are insufficient enforcement measures like a lack of signage and new cameras.”
“A failure to lay out adequate plans to catch and prosecute drivers of dirty vehicles would make a mockery of this LEZ planned for Glasgow.”
“Only Scottish Labour has the ambition and the urgency to tackle air pollution which would see Scotland meets its obligations under EU law by 2020 and properly protect peoples' health, including children and those with chronic lung conditions.”