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Louise Batchelor
"Car pollution remains public enemy number one"
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BBC Scotland's Colin Wight reports
"Sepa says ozone levels have been breached in rural areas"
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Monday, 12 June, 2000, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Valley 'most polluted area'
Grangemouth emissions are noted in report
The Forth Valley is the most polluted area of Scotland, according to major air quality survey.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) study also found that traffic fumes in towns and cities continued to breach health levels.

Sepa has now called for concerted action to bring pollution levels down.

Traffic is by far the largest source of health threatening pollution

Friends of the Earth
The agency said that while there had been dramatic improvements in overall air quality, pollution levels were still unacceptably high in some areas and the Forth Valley gave most cause for concern.

The valley has been subjected to emissions from the BP Amoco plant at Grangemouth, the Longannet and Cockenzie power stations and other industry and traffic.

The agency also highlighted more than 8,000 hospital admissions thought to be due to nitrogen dioxide from exhaust fumes in the UK in 1996, the last year for which figures were available.

The pressure group, Friends of the Earth, Scotland, said one Highlands monitoring site had already registered breaches in the air quality standard for ozone several times this year.

Car exhaust
Sepa is demanding concerted action
Srath Vaich, between Inverness and Ullapool, had breached safe limits of the gas on 13 days so far this year, despite guidelines stating 10 breaches in a year were unacceptable.

"News that sites have already begun to fail this year underlines the urgency with which the problem of air pollution must be tackled," said Dr Richard Dixon.

"We believe that clean air should be a right not a privilege."

Dr Dixon said the Sepa report showed that air pollution levels which harmed both humans and wildlife were found across Scotland.

"For the majority of the population, traffic is by far the largest source of health threatening pollution," he said.

"Only action to reduce traffic levels will make any real impact in ridding Scotland of the scourge of air pollution.

Fail to reach targets

"This report should act as a wake-up call to the many local authorities which have so far failed to realise how important the new air quality targets will be in dictating safe levels of traffic in their areas."

Friends of the Earth said it had studied reports produced on air pollution in Scotland's four major cities last year and found most would fail to reach tough targets due to take effect in 2005 to cut levels of nitrogen dioxide, which is emitted by cars.

In Edinburgh, 18 out of 38 air quality monitoring sites breached acceptable levels of the pollutant, while Aberdeen Council expressed concern over meeting the target near busy roads, the charity said.

And in both Dundee and Glasgow the council reports found further action would be needed to cut traffic-related pollution.

Earlier this month, Transport and Environment Minister, Sarah Boyack, formally introduced the Transport (Scotland) Bill which would give local authorities powers to introduce charges for entering polluted and congested city centres.

Sarah Boyack
Sarah Boyack: Transport proposals
Reacting to the report, Ms Boyack said there had been success in improving air quality but stressed that more work needed to be done through cooperation.

She said: "Air pollution does not respect national or international boundaries so joint action to deliver cleaner air is a necessity.

"It is only right that solutions should be sought at local, national, EU and international levels."

Lib-Dem environment spokesman, Tavish Scott, welcomed the Scottish Executive's approach to air pollution but called for more promotion of liquid petroleum gas (LPG).

He said: "The minister correctly identified the need to tackle pollution from traffic.

"One easy way this can be done is by encouraging individuals and businesses to convert their vehicles to run on LPG, which is cleaner than petrol and diesel."

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Exhaust emissions
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