The town of Lanark becomes an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) after alarming test results show particular areas of the town are critically close to violate the legal safety limit for air pollution.
Due to the major impact air quality has on the environment and our health, Scottish local authorities under the Environmental Act in 1995 and the enforced LAQM system (Local Air Quality Management) monitor and regularly review the air quality of their council areas. They need to consider current and future concentrations of pollution and work to keep pollution within limits.
According to Friends of the Earth, Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation, air pollution is Scotland’s single biggest environmental health threat. Every year 2000 people die prematurely due to poor air quality and breathing in fine particles. The main cause behind the high levels of pollution in Scotland is the concentration of traffic.
In December last year, a report was delivered to the South Lanarkshire council on the air quality of the region for the past seven years. The report showed that Lanark’s nitrogen dioxide levels are critically close to the legal levels and run the risk of not meeting the air quality targets set by the government.
According to the regional newspaper, the Carluke Gazette, their readers have been raising concerns regarding Lanark’s busy roads for “several years” but this has not been addressed by the council until recently.
The Future for Lanark’s Air
On January 1st this year, South Lanarkshire declared parts of Lanark an Air Quality Management Area. This makes it the third AQMA in the council area, the other two being East Kilbride and Rutherglen.
The council is currently in the planning stage of an action plan for the next 12 to 18 months to prevent the levels from rising any further.
In relation to the recent announcement, Shirley Clelland, South Lanarkshire council’s Head of Environmental Services said:
“In general the air quality throughout South Lanarkshire is good. There are, however, certain areas where air quality needs to improve to meet the targets set by Scottish legislation. Environmental Services has been monitoring air quality for some time to establish what the actual levels in the area are and to help identify where these may be above the target legal levels.”
It will be interesting to see what measures the council decides to take to turn this increase in pollution around in Lanark.