Local actions supporting UK initiative

It is estimated that every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK.  The World Health Organisation and the UK Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today. Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues. 

Clean Air Day is the UK's largest air pollution campaign which normally takes place on the third Thursday in June. However, due to COVID-19, this year Clean Air Day is taking place on 8 October 2020 and is an initiative supported by East Lothian Council.

Environment spokesperson, Cllr Norman Hampshire, said: "EastLothian Council launched its Climate Change strategy in January this year and ‘improving air quality’ is a key priority area under the outcome of reducing transport related greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality by supporting and encouraging active and sustainable travel. We have also set out how we will lead by example by reducing emissions across our own transport fleet and staff travel.”

“In less than a year we have already achieved considerable progress in reducing our carbon emissions. Just last week we shared details about the expansion of our Electric Vehicles within the council fleet thanks to funding from Transport Scotland and this will continue over the coming years with ultra low emission vehicles replacing diesel ones. In addition, to support other businesses and individuals to follow suit, East Lothian Council has installed one of the most comprehensive networks of EV charge points across the country. Residents and visitors can readily access an EV charge point at a number of locations across the county including multiple charge points at each of the six main towns.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought major changes to people’s personal and working lives which have had led to further measures being brought forward to support local demand. A rise in cycling and walking has been supported through Spaces for People funding to make popular routes safer to use. From the reduction in speed limits within our towns and villages to extending space for cyclists and walkers to observe physical distancing guidance these have contributed to more people choosing sustainable travel options and helping to reduce carbon emissions. In addition we have also recently opened two cycle hire sites in Musselburgh providing opportunities for residents and visitors who don’t own a bike to cycle for work or recreation purposes. Further investment including the introduction of eBike hire will shortly be realised.”

“Clean Air Day is a UK-wide initiative aimed at improving public understanding of air pollution and how it can affect our health. I know from visiting local schools that many young people are concerned and seek ways in which we can help to reduce emissions - whether that’s using the car less or encouraging sustainable ways of travel.  We can all take some actions to tackle this problem which will help protect the environment and our health.”

Published: Thursday, 8th October 2020