East Dunbartonshire Council have announced that their Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Bearsden can now be removed due to improvements made, with backing from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

The AQMA covers a 60 metre-wide corridor along the A809/A810 to the junction with Antonine Road, to the south beyond Canniesburn Toll and to the east of Roman Road Car Park, with a small section of Stockiemuir Road also included.

It was given that status in 2011 after concerns over levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter (PM10).

Annual mean (average) levels of NO2 and PM10 in the Bearsden AQMA are now well below national objectives. 

The annual mean NO2 concentration in 2010 was 47 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air) and in 2019 this fell to 32 µg/m3 and then further decreasing to 20 µg/m3 in 2020. 

For PM10 Annual Mean concentration in 2010 was 25 µg/m3. This feel to 11 µg/m3 in 2019 and then further fell to 8 µg/m3 in 2020. 

This is well below Scottish air quality objectives which have annual mean (average) of 40 µg/m3 for NO2 and 18 µg/m3 for PM10. 

Guidance recommends that where pollutant levels have reduced and remain below objectives for at least three consecutive years, an AQMA order should be revoked.

That was the case in 2017, 2018 and 2019 – prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, so not influenced by the reduction in traffic during lockdown periods.

Both the Scottish Government and SEPA have agreed the AQMA status should be revoked.

It is thought to be due in part to improving emission standards of vehicles, improvements within the overall road network and measures undertaken by the Council as part of its Air Quality Action Plan.

The Council will now publish a Notice of Intention to revoke the AQMA, and seek the views of statutory consultees, local businesses and the public.

The Bearsden Air Quality Action Plan will remain in place, and the Council will continue to monitor levels and work to reduce pollution across East Dunbartonshire.

Figures for 2020 show NO2 and PM10 pollution levels continue to fall.

Councillor Paul Ferretti, Convener of Place, Neighbourhood and Corporate Assets, said, “This is excellent news, but it is not the end of the journey. We will continue to work to reduce air pollution across East Dunbartonshire, along with a range of partners.

“The removal of the AQMA is based on evidence – gathered before the pandemic, when traffic levels fell significantly – and backed by advice from the Scottish Government and SEPA.

“We’re committed to a number of policies and strategies to improve the environment for the benefit of our residents and generations to come.”