Environment Minister publishes national air quality strategy for Scotland.
Scotland's Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Aileen McLeod today announced the publication of 'Cleaner Air for Scotland – The Road to a Healthier Future', a new national strategy aiming to achieve cleaner air quality for Scotland.
Speaking at this morning's Scottish Transport Emissions Partnership (STEP) annual conference, Dr McLeod said she had a vision for Scotland's air quality to be the best in Europe.
"In recent decades polluting outputs have been reduced – but despite these efforts, pockets of poorer air quality still remain in many of our towns and cities.
"Cleaner Air for Scotland is our first distinct air quality strategy. It sets out actions across government portfolios that will further reduce air pollution, with a particular emphasis on protecting human health and reducing health inequalities.
"Through Cleaner Air for Scotland we will adopt the World Health Organisation guideline values for particulate matter in Scottish legislation – making us the first country in Europe to do so. I want us to demonstrate our level of ambition, but at the same time learn from good practice elsewhere.
"We must also highlight the opportunities to generate efficiencies and cost savings by linking air quality to other areas, such as climate change adaption and mitigation, transport and planning. Cleaner Air for Scotland aims to provide a framework within which this can be achieved, and is particularly important in the build-up to the forthcoming climate change negotiations in Paris next month."
The Minister added that there are challenges to overcome as a result of emerging evidence around the under-performance of EU diesel vehicle emission standards, as well as breaches of emissions testing regulations by certain manufacturers.
"We will develop a national air quality awareness campaign to inform key audiences and encourage behavioural change. We cannot achieve the aims of Cleaner Air for Scotland alone – public participation and engagement is essential if we are to deliver change."
There are currently 32 Air Quality Management Areas in place across Scotland, the vast majority declared on the basis of transport emissions. These pollutants, which include fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, are largely invisible but no less significant in terms of their impact.
Successfully addressing air pollution requires a partnership approach, involving the Scottish Government, its agencies, local authorities, business and industry, professional institutions, non-governmental organisations, and the general public.
The purpose of Cleaner Air for Scotland is to set out how the Scottish Government and its partner organisations propose to deliver further reductions in air pollution and fulfil our legal responsibilities in relation to air quality as soon as possible. It also considers the contribution that better air quality can make to sustainable economic growth, whilst improving health and environment, and reducing health inequalities for the citizens of Scotland. The strategy has been produced in partnership with many organisations across both the public and private sectors.