In your letter, you provide suggestions on how to improve air quality and lower emissions. You argue that bulk fuel additives, engine performance optimisers, fuel enhancement technology and E10 could improve air quality without putting additional charges and taxes on motorists. These are interesting initiatives and I wanted to thank you for bringing them to my attention.
Air quality is a devolved matter for the Scottish Parliament and in its Programme for Government 2017-2018, the Scottish Government set out its ambition to tackle air pollution in Scotland. It pledged to introduce a Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) in one of Scotland’s cities by the end of 2018. It also pledged to work with local authorities to introduce LEZs into Scotland’s four biggest cities by 2020 and to all Air Quality Management Areas by 2023.
LEZs are a radical way of cutting vehicle pollution in our towns and while the first LEZ for Glasgow should be an exemplar for the following three in Scotland, unfortunately this is not the case. The timescales are far too long for some actions and there are insufficient enforcement measures such as a lack of signage and new cameras. The Scottish Government must therefore provide additional funding for this LEZ to be an exemplar.
I appreciate your concerns about the impact of additional charges on motorists and I understand that air pollution is not just about private cars. Buses, coaches, taxis and minicabs are all high-mileage vehicles that operate within our towns and cities, which is why I think we must invest in greener, integrated and efficient transport systems across the UK and in our area.
Clean air is a right, not a privilege. That is why, at last year’s general election, I stood on a manifesto which pledged to introduce a new Clean Air Act to deal with the UK Government’s legacy of illegal air quality.
I believe we need more ambition and urgency to tackle air pollution which would see Scotland meet its obligations under EU law by 2020 and properly protect peoples’ health, including children and those with chronic lung conditions.
I can assure you I will closely monitor both Scottish and UK Government developments in this area and bear in mind the points you have raised.