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Powerful protest against Aberdeen air pollution

Campaingers held signs and wore masks
Campaingers held signs and wore masks

Campaigners have taken to the streets in a bid to encourage Aberdeen City Council to take swifter action on the issue of pollution.

Led by Friends of the Earth Scotland and Aberdeen Cycle Forum, protesters donned gas masks and carried signs as they set up camp outside the St Nicholas Centre.

The protest was organised in response to the “the lack of action” taken by local authorities concerning air pollution.

Earlier this month, the Press and Journal revealed that 13 Aberdeen locations had been identified as having toxic levels of dioxide pollution.

The figures showed that over the course of a year some areas had an average of up to 48 microgrammes of the gas per cubic metre. The target is less that 40 microgrammes.

Exposure to nitrogen dioxide, which is caused by the burning of fossil fuels in car engines, is linked to increased mortality and respiratory problems.

Air pollution on Scottish streets causes 2,500 early deaths each year.

Rachel Martin, of Aberdeen Cycle Forum, explained the importance of encouraging the local authority to take action.

She said: “We chose St Nicholas Street because it is near two pollution hotspots where thousands of people are exposed to toxic air every day.

“Aberdonians are rightly concerned about the effects of pollution on their health and the health of their families and we want the council to take urgent action.

“We want the city to be a place where everyone can breathe clean air and we believe this will make it a more appealing place to live, visit, and do business.

“I don’t think people realise how bad the situation is in Aberdeen, and we need to highlight the harm that air pollution does to our health.”

Rachel Martin (front) and fellow campaigners

Aberdeen City Council has drawn up a long term master plan which includes several measures to reduce pollution.

More pedestrian projects like Broad Street are envisaged for the city centre – including the Langstane area – while the council is also backing the use of hydrogen buses to encourage more use of public transport.

Mrs Martin said Aberdeen cycle Forum and Friends of the Earth Scotland would fully back such proposals, but wanted them to be implemented sooner rather than later.

She said: “The Scottish Government is putting it onto local authorities to do something about the air pollution situation.

“We want to say that, as voters, we support strategies to tackle air pollution and policies such as the implementation of low emission zones and pollution free public transport, such as  hydrogen buses.

“In addition, the council has been talking about part-pedestrianising Union Street long time, and we think ‘Just do it’.

“Reducing traffic on the street would boost business and make a better place for people to live and work – without inhaling toxic fumes.”

Efforts to reduce the amount of traffic using Union Street have been hampered by delays to the opening of the AWPR.

 

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