SCOTLAND: SEPA calls for action on air pollution

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has called for a concerted effort to bring air pollution levels down following the publication of a report showing that pollution levels are still unacceptably high in some areas of the country.

Launching the report, SEPA Chairman Ken Collins called for concerted action to address the problems caused by air pollution. “SEPA will take a lead here, and some of the actions we will take are set out in the Report. But action is also needed from the other players too: from Government, from Europe, from industry, pressure groups, local authorities and all the others who have an interest in this important issue. I trust they too will take up the challenge.”

SEPA says that while its State of the Environment Air Quality Report shows an overall trend of improving air quality, it also highlights some serious concerns. For instance, NOx from traffic levels make a major contribution to hospital admissions in the UK, low lying ozone is intense enough to damage vegetation in rural areas, Scottish lochs are suffering from the effects of acid rain.

The report also warns that Scottish greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions are contributing to climate change, which is expected to lead to rising temperatures, heavier rainfall in winter and increased storm damage and flooding.

Key findings of the report include:

  • 1996 statistics show that nitrogen dioxide may have contributed to around 8700 hospital admissions in the UK. Traffic pollution is the major source, and levels have exceeded the UK national air quality standard near busy roads in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen
  • low lying ozone can exceed UK air quality standards in many rural areas during sunny weather, at levels likely to damage vegetation
  • many lochs in Scotland have been affected by acid deposition. Acidification is a particular problem in the Galloway area
  • ghg emissions are leading to global climate changes. In Scotland, forecasts are for increased temperatures, heavier rain especially in winter, a rise in sea levels and increased storm damage, flooding and coastal erosion

Among its goals and targets, SEPA includes the need to continue to reduce atmospheric emissions through the use of best available technology; to secure 90% satisfactory operator performance for regulated processes by 2003; and the need to establish an atmospheric emissions inventory which quantifies all emissions from SEPA regulated processes by 2003.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie