Bearsden air pollution levels continue to soar

Bearsden Cross GV for pollution story with lots of cars in it if possible'Photo by Emma Mitchell'12/2/13
Bearsden Cross GV for pollution story with lots of cars in it if possible'Photo by Emma Mitchell'12/2/13

New analysis by an environmental campaign group has revealed pollution levels in Bearsden continue to soar.

Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoE) said “significant” increases of toxic pollutants produced by vehicles have been recorded in the area.

The FoE group analysed 
official air pollution data for 2019, looking at toxic pollutants produced by vehicles. They described the findings here and across Scotland as “shameful”.

The new analysis has prompted local Green MSP Ross Greer to call again for urgent action and he hit out at East Dunbartonshire Council for refusing to explore making Drymen Road a Low Emission Zone.

He told the Herald: “Safe air quality limits have been breached for years at Bearsden Cross, which is especially alarming at an Air Quality Management Area with a primary school playground at its centre.

“Three thousand people a year die prematurely because of air pollution, with children and the elderly the worst affected. We can’t afford not to act.

“The council recognise the problem, but their plan is nowhere near bold enough to tackle it.

“We should be urgently exploring designating Drymen Road as a Low Emission Zone, restricting heavy goods vehicles for example.

“Despite my requests, East Dunbartonshire Council have refused to look into this 
option.

He added: “The key aim has to be getting people out of their cars and onto public transport. Recent improvements by Citybus will help but until the Scottish Government accept our demands for the Milngavie rail line to be re-dualled, its poor performance will continue, pushing many residents out of the train and back into their cars, making this problem worse.”

The toxic pollutants analysed, NO2 and particulate matter (PM10) are both caused by fossil-fuel engines.

FoE Scotland said politicians at a local and national level had been too slow in reducing car traffic in urban areas and in making public transport both reliable and affordable.

A spokesperson for Scottish Transport said: “We currently have no plans to double the tracks on the Milngavie branch.

Recent infrastructure works at Westerton along with the improvement plan actions taken by ScotRail has had a direct impact on reducing delays and improving performance of services using the Milngavie line.

“Customers are seeing a marked improvement with service reliability as a result. Further infrastructure works are planned which will see performance improve even further.”

Councillor Billy Hendry, Convener of Place, Neighbourhood & Corporate Assets, said: “The air quality around Bearsden Cross has been continuously monitored since 2006 and an area of Bearsden was declared an Air Quality Management Area in 2011 due to exceedances of the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10) annual mean.

“In line with Scottish Government guidance, an Air Quality Action Plan was consulted upon and published, proposing 29 measures aimed at helping to reduce pollutant levels around Bearsden Cross.

“Since declaration, the annual mean NO2 and PM10 levels have declined considerably and 2017 saw a further reduction in pollutant levels. The data

for 2018 showed that the Bearsden area was 18% and 22% below the objectives for NO2 and PM10 respectively while the 2019 provisional data for NO2

indicates that the emission recorded is 10% below the strategy objectives and 39% below the objectives for PM10.

“Improving air quality is a Council priority and we will continue to work towards improvements where possible. The council continues to engage with heavy goods vehicles and bus operators in its area to sign up to the Eco-stars Fleet Management Programme.

“The Eco-stars Fleet Recognition Scheme aims to help fleet operators improve efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and emissions, make cost savings and reduce their environmental impact.

“Local people can play their part too by ensuring they reduce the number of unnecessary journeys by car, walk or cycle more and switch off their

engines whilst stationary. If we all work together on this, we can continue to help improve air quality not just across Bearsden but across all of East Dunbartonshire.”