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United Kingdom

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the third largest in the UK. The city has a population of almost 600,000, the greater Glasgow region almost 1.2 million and the whole region around the city around 2.4 million people. Glasgow is an important academic centre with four universities and many educational facilities being located here. It is also the economic centre of the region with one of the highest GDPs in the UK. The city has a public transport system with bus services, a metro and urban railway. The city has been very active in modernising its municipal fleet and promoting public transport.

Overall Grade: F 58%

Pie Chart 58
  • Graph Reduction Success Local Emissions
  • Graph Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters
  • Graph Public Procurement Clean Cars
  • Graph Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources
  • Graph Use of Economic Incentives
  • Graph Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split
  • Graph Promotion of Public Transport
  • Graph Promotion of Walking & Cycling
  • Graph Transparency & Communication Policy


Reduction Success Local Emissions

From 2008 to 2012, PM10 exceedance days at the traffic station Kerbside decreased from 42 to 7. At the same time, the background station Centre reported only 6 exceedance days in 2008 and 2 in 2011. Annual mean values for PM10 declined from 31.5 to 23.9 µg/m³ at Kerbside traffic station between 2008 and 2012*. Glasgow thus managed to stay consistently below EU limit values (35 exceedances and 40 µg/m³ annual mean). A serious problem, however, exists for NO2. Even though annual mean levels decreased from 82.5 to 72.3 µg/m³ in the meantime, Glasgow did not manage to comply with EU NO2 limit values (40 µg/m³).

Road transport is responsible for more than 40% of PM10 and more than 50% of NOx levels.

(*) Values for 2012 have a validity below 80% according to EEA AirBase.

Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters

The Glasgow City Centre Transport Strategy has finalised a feasibility study that investigated the potential for an LEZ in Glasgow and advised to investigate further measures. The City Council announced that by the 2014 Commonwealth Games there would be a trial LEZ. In 2014 however, the city postponed the implementation and waited for the draft Scottish Low Emission Strategy. That leaves Glasgow for the time being without any access restriction, apart from small measures like a not very extensive Statutory Quality Partnership, regulating bus emissions of contractors. These are not very tight, though, and will not deliver requisite reductions in emissions standards (20% of vehicles to meet Euro IV).

Public Procurement Clean Cars

The minimum requirement of the city for vehicles is generally Euro 3, although a large part of the fleet is already Euro 5. All new vehicles are fitted with particle filters and NO2-reducing SCR technology. Furthermore, the city is investing in electric vehicles. 30 vehicles out of 1,218 are already electric. However, the share of dirty vehicles (35% Euro 2, 25% Euro 3) is still very high.

The Council is rather limited in what it can achieve to improve emissions standards of buses without a low emission zone because the bus operators are privately owned. This is why an LEZ is the best possible option for controlling bus emissions.

Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources

In 2014, the city decided to produce a code of practice for developments within the city, which promotes the use of best-possible techniques on dust control, though legislation for particulate filters has not yet been put in place.

Use of Economic Incentives

The city does not have a congestion charging zone, even though the Sustainable Glasgow report indicated possible public support for such a measure. The city has a strategy to reduce commuter and long-term parking which is planned to be revised either in 2015 or 2016 in the context of reducing the impact of cars. Residential parking can only be installed for inhabitants if they moved in before the year 2000. Parking management fees cross-finance parking administration and operational costs of parking spaces. Glasgow City Council offers free electric vehicle charging and free parking at a network of Plugged in Places around the city.

Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split

The general strategy of Glasgow is the reduction of private motorised transport and the increase of people using public transport, walking and cycling. In 2012, Glasgow had a modal split of 46.1% people walking, followed by motorised transport of 31.6% and 20.2% of public transport. However, these figures are based on a travel diary survey and not very reliable.

The city will introduce speed limits of 20 mph in the city centre.

Glasgow City Council operates 64 charging points for electric vehicles, with a further 8 on-street charging points due to be operational by March 2015. Glasgow operates a car sharing scheme called City Car Club with a limited number of cars.

Promotion of Public Transport

Glasgow has a large public transport system featuring busses, rail transport and one circular metro line. About one third of the modal split is done by public transport. The city has extensive plans to expand, improve and modernise the bus, subway and suburban train networks, especially in the run up to the Olympics in 2012 and Commonwealth Games in 2014. These plans also include the Clyde Fastlink, a dedicated bus link system separated from the rest of the network. Finally the city is also developing an integrated multi-modal smart card ticketing system.

Note: Due to an editorial mistake we claimed that the public transport system of Glasgow also included tram lines. This is not the case and we are thankful for informing us.

Promotion of Walking & Cycling

There are several measures and efforts to increase and encourage bicycle use, particularly introduced in preparation for the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. The cycling network in Glasgow covers 200 km. The city is expanding its bicycle lanes and the number of bike racks, and it is creating new routes with permanent investments. The bike sharing scheme NEXTBIKE was launched in 2014 through city investments of £1.3m. It started with 150 bikes at 15 stations and now provides about 400 bikes at 30 stations. Another ten stations are currently being installed.

For walking, a series of promotion measures was included in the current transport plan such as better signs and extended pedestrian zones.

Transparency & Communication Policy

Information on air quality is available through various websites, in particular the city website, which includes a large range of informative documents like monitoring and progress reports, as well as action plans and information about monitoring stations. There is a direct contact to the public health department. The website furthermore informs citizens on how they can participate.

A national website provides further information on air quality, anoption to download the latest data, comprehensive background information and a daily email or mobile phone alert. Furthermore, there is an educational section for children and teenagers. Websites by national departments and independent agencies were not taken into account for grading.

City website on air quality (Engl.):

National website on air quality (Engl.):