News in brief

With news on: Scottish tobacco ban; Braunton AQAP consultation; Putney buses, and; wildflower pollution risk

Ban on display of tobacco products in Scotland

A ban on the open display of tobacco products in large shops and sales from self-service tobacco vending machines will be introduced in Scotland on April 29 2013, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

The Scottish government has moved to ban the display of tobacco products in shops

The Scottish government has moved to ban the display of tobacco products in shops and vending machines

Two orders laid in Parliament on February 7 by Scottish minister for public health, Michael Matheson, set the date for the display and vending machine bans to come into force in Scotland this year.

Large shops are defined as those with a floor area exceeding 280 square metres, although the ban will also come into force for smaller retailers on April 6 2015.

Mr Matheson said: “We know that reducing the number of people that smoke will have wide benefits for Scotland’s health and evidence shows that these bans will help prevent young people from taking up smoking. That is why we believe this is the right approach for Scotland and I am delighted that we are now in a position to implement these bans, which is a key step in maintaining Scotland’s position as a world leader on tobacco control.”

He added: “We have worked closely with retailers to set this date. We appreciate that smaller retailers need extra time to make the necessary changes and so we have decided that April 2015 represents a fair timescale for implementing the display ban for them.”

The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 prohibits the display of tobacco products and smoking related products in places where tobacco products are offered for sale.

North Devon council consults on Braunton air quality plan

Proposals to address air quality problems as a result of traffic in the village of Braunton have been put forward for public consultation by North Devon council.
The council is inviting responses on its draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) from January 31 to April 30, having declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Braunton in 2011.

The AQMA runs from the square to the village green and the action plan has put forward ten options to help reduce the air pollution, largely from nitrogen dioxide emissions, in the area. These include improvements to public transport, ideas for a park and ride scheme and an upgrade of traffic lights to help the flow of traffic.

North Devon councillor and executive member for environment, Rodney Cann, said: “The main cause of the air quality exceedances relates to traffic running through the area. To address this, we have put forward suggested measures, which we appreciate the community may have views on. Therefore, we want to hear from as many people as possible, from local residents to businesses, to gauge their opinions. It may well be that people have their own ideas on how we could improve air quality.”

More information on the consultation and the AQAP proposals is available on the North Devon council website.

Emissions-reducing equipment for buses in Putney

Plans to reduce pollution from buses passing through Putney have been announced by the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL).

94 buses in Putney

A TfL retofit programme will see 94 double-decker buses in Putney fitted with emissons-reducing equipment

Under the plans, pollution reducing equipment is to be fitted to 94 double decker buses as part of a £10 million bus retrofit programme funded by TfL and the Department for Transport.

The buses will be fitted with catalyst equipment which trials in 2012 found removed up to 88% of nitrogen dioxide emissions, according to TfL.

Mike Weston, London buses operations director, said: “Following a successful trial we are pleased to introduce innovative equipment to buses which will make a significant impact on reducing pollution emissions in Putney. This, in addition to the introduction of newer buses including greener hybrids vehicles, is helping the Mayor and TfL deliver better air quality for people in Putney.”

The retrofitting of 94 buses is part of the Mayor’s wider plans to deliver 1,600 hybrid buses across London by 2016.

Wildflowers at risk from air pollution

Many species of wildlife are at higher risk from low levels of air pollution than previously thought, according to Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) scientists.

Creeping buttercups are among the wildflower species found to be at risk from low-level air pollution

Creeping buttercups are among the wildflower species found in the research to be at higher risk from low-level air pollution than previously thought

The scientists found that many species, particularly wildflowers such as creeping buttercup, harebell, yarrow, and autumn hawkbit, were much less abundant in areas with high nitrogen levels, such as central Britain, the Netherlands, northern Germany and Brittany.

Undertaken by Dr Richard Payne and Professor Nancy Dise of the MMU’s biology and conservation ecology group together with colleagues at Lancaster University and the Open University, the findings of the research were published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) last month (January 18).

The scientists studied more than 100 individual plant species’ reactions to nitrogen deposition at 153 grassland sites across Europe.

Professor of biogeochemistry at MMU, Nancy Dise, said: “One of the drawbacks of previous studies is that most field experiments to establish limits on pollution are near the populated, and polluted, areas where most scientists live. It may be that long-term exposure to even medium levels of pollution have already changed these ecosystems.”

She added: “In this latest research, we studied many grasslands along the natural gradient of pollution across Europe. And we found that, even at the cleanest sites, low levels of pollution had an effect on the abundance of some plant species.”

The full paper and associated commentary can be found by searching ‘Impact of nitrogen deposition at the species level’ on the PNAS website.


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