CLEAN AIR DAY 2020
CLEAN AIR DAY 2020
Environmental Protection Scotland guest blog - John Bynorth
Scotland has come together to support Clean Air Day in a way that was unthinkable seven months ago.
From the Isle of Skye and Inverness in the Highlands, to Aberdeen,
Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh; scores of people, dozens of schools,
charities, the private sector and other groups are supporting the
campaign on October 8.
The campaign took place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic
and showcased efforts by the Scottish Government and local authorities
to make Scotland’s air quality the best in Europe through Low Emission
Zones, active travel and support for ‘cleaner’ bus fleets and electric
This all ties in with the Scottish Government’s ambition to reduce
its share of Global Greenhouse Gas emissions to ‘net-zero’ by 2045.
Clean Air Day has traditionally been held mid-June since its launch
as 2017, with major public events attended by hundreds of people in
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.
But the COVID-19 pandemic forced organisers to shift the entire event
to October and onto social media, with schools still participating in
air quality and active travel activities from Edinburgh to Inverness,
Stirling and Glasgow. There has been involvement from Dunbar Harbour
Trust - which promoted a no idling message to visitors - to Transport
Scotland, which supported Enterprise Car Club’s decision to make its EVs
available for customers free of charge on Clean Air Day.
The campaign aims to encourage people to walk, cycle or scoot instead
of using the car and to keep up some of the air quality improvements
which emerged during the recent national lockdown that took place in
Clean Air Day tapped into the public’s enthusiasm for cycling and
walking, which enjoyed a boost that is still being felt after rules
around staying local forced people out to exercise during the national
lockdown in March.
The £30 million provided by Transport Scotland’s ‘Spaces For People’
and administered by Sustrans Scotland to local authorities for temporary
walking and cycling routes during the pandemic has made a difference
across towns, with people feeling safer and more socially distant.
Cycling Scotland’s own data from its cycle counters across Scotland
found there had been a 199% increase in cyclists passing one of the
counters in Clyde Street in Glasgow between the start of lockdown in
March and September. The charity recorded a 132% rise at its counter in
Dunfermline, Fife, and a 128% rise in cyclists passing a roadside
counter in Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire.
LEZ cities have been transformed for pedestrians and cyclists and 15
months after a street in George Square in Glasgow was sealed off to
traffic for people to enjoy food at picnic tables on Clean Air Day,
pub-goers could be seen enjoying a a drink on socially distanced benches
laid out across a normally busy street overlooking the square.
The LEZ, initially for buses, the ‘nextbike’ bike hire scheme, The
Avenues pedestrian/cycle schemes and bus-only streets to speed up our
bus services, are all helping to push people out of their cars into
active travel in Glasgow.
One week before Clean Air Day, the City Council announced the
Parkhead Cross Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) has been revoked after
nitrogen dioxide levels in the AQMA consistently met Scottish air
It followed the Scottish Government Programme for Government (PfG)
announcement on 1 September that £500 million would be invested in
active travel infrastructure across Scotland over the five years.
In a statement to mark Clean Air Day, the Cabinet Secretary for the
Environment, Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham said:
“Reducing air pollution is vital to the health of our people and planet
and here in Scotland, we want to make the air we breathe the cleanest
“Leaving our cars at home and opting to walk or cycle instead is a
simple way to reduce air pollution, keep fit and help Scotland reach its
goal of ending our contribution to climate change by 2045.”
John Bynorth is Policy and Communications Officer at
Environmental Protection Scotland (EPS). The charity coordinates Clean
Air Day in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Watch the EPS Clean Air Day video here https://www.ep-scotland.org.uk/news/clean-air-day-video/