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Inverness has illegal air pollution, claims Friends of the Earth Scotland

By Andrew Dixon

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Academy Street is often busy with traffic and people.
Academy Street is often busy with traffic and people.

Friends of the Earth Scotland has ranked the country’s most polluted streets for 2019, and Inverness's Academy Street appears among the worst offenders.

This is a first appearance on the environmental campaign group’s list.

Campaigners say illegal pollution levels are a result of years of funding for road schemes and a failure of private companies to provide reliable, affordable public transport. They argue these factors have created the conditions forcing people into cars and driving up pollution levels.

Streets in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee have also been identified in a similar way.

Gavin Thomson, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s air pollution campaigner, said: “These figures are shameful. They indicate a step backwards for Inverness and a failure to address air pollution, which causes serious health conditions such as asthma, heart attacks and strokes.

“Our transport system is unsustainable. It is harming our lungs and worsening the climate emergency. In our cities, we urgently need to make walking and cycling the easy choice for everyone who is able. To help people leave the car behind, we must prioritise public transport with greater investment as well as interventions that improve both reliability and affordability for users.

“Highland Council should consider a Low Emission Zone for Inverness, while introducing other measures to reduce car use in the city. The proposed dualling of the A96 is a perfect example of resources going in the wrong direction – it should be halted as soon as possible. If we don’t start prioritising greener transport over fossil-fuelled cars, we’ll keep burning the earth and keep forcing people to breathe in toxic fumes.

“We are all at risk from toxic traffic pollution but children and the elderly are at particular risk. By ending the chokehold of cars on our public spaces, we can open up our streets to walking, cycling and create healthier, safer communities.”

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