Air quality improving but no room for complacency - Transport Convener

Air quality in the Capital is getting better, a new report to the Council's Transport and Environment Committee shows. 

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. [See press release from September 2016]

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."


- The Scottish Household Survey 2015 and the Edinburgh Bike Life report indicate that cycling to work by Edinburgh residents increased from 4.9% in 2011 to 7.3% during 2014/15.

- A new traffic signalling system has been installed (Microprocessor Optimised Vehicle Actuation (MOVA)) at Newbridge Roundabout which became fully operational in April 2016. This was designed to improve flow and vehicle delay times and hence reduce exhaust emissions in the Glasgow Road AQMA. Results have shown that there has been a significant reduction in waiting time on the A8 westbound corridor.

- The Council continues to promote and embrace electric vehicle charging infrastructure. All public accessible charging sites can be viewed on the following website At the time of reporting there were 141 charging heads at 60 site locations. The Council has seen a steady increase in the number of charging sessions and amount of power used. 
Transport Scotland has become a partner with the Council to assist the funding of an on street pilot electric charging scheme which will provide fourteen units at seven locations in the Marchmont area of the city. The units should be available for use by the end of 2017, subject to Traffic Regulation Order consultations.

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