Scotland is performing well on air quality by both EU and global standards, an independent review has found.
The report, published by the Scottish Government, is a review of the 2015 Cleaner Air for Scotland Strategy. It was produced by a national cross-government steering group of 10 experts, chaired by Professor Campbell Gemmell, with contributions from representatives from REHIS.
The report assess progress against the Strategy and also made recommendations on how to maintain this.
It found that concentrations and emissions of most major pollutants continue to fall as a result of action taken to date.
Moving forward, the report recommends a precautionary public health approach to air pollution reduction and that further consideration be given to the impact of new building developments on air quality levels.
The review also noted that continued robust environmental regulation will be needed, including to tackle under-regulated areas such as ammonia emissions from agriculture, which have not fallen, and the growing impact of domestic wood-burning stoves and gas heating.
Further emphasis if also to be given to the shift towards more sustainable transport modes, including clean buses, electric vehicles, alternative freight approaches, effective Low Emission Zones, as well as support and effective planning for active travel.
Commenting on the report’s recommendations, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:
“With Scotland performing well by global standards, it is clear that our current strategy has had a positive impact by raising the profile of air pollution and helping to facilitate constructive stakeholder engagement. So while I welcome this report, I am under no illusions that there is still more to be done as we progress towards our 2020 targets.
“We will now take the time to consider the review’s recommendations in detail before formally responding following a public consultation to gather wider views. In the meantime, I would like to thank Professor Gemmell and his team for their hard work and look forward to discussing this with him in due course.”
Chair of the review panel Professor Gemmell said:
“This was a big team effort to review a wide range of aspects of air pollution. Good progress has been made but much more is needed. Particulates and NOx from the transport sector as well as agricultural ammonia and domestic heating emissions remain major challenges and need targeted effort. The health impacts of air pollution are potentially severe and we must double down on taking coherent action. The report stresses co-ordinated effort across local and Scottish government to provide leadership and practical support to move us forward to a cleaner, healthier future.”
Cleaner Air for Scotland – The Road to a Healthier Future (CAFS) is Scotland’s first strategy specifically dedicated to tackling the issue in Scotland – previous strategies were conducted on a UK basis – was published in November 2015.
The Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy: independent review can be accessed here.