The air that we breathe is fundamental to human life and the quality of our environment. The quality of life lived is placed at both short and longer term risk by poor air quality. Despite the undoubted improvements in air quality over recent years, continued and systemic action will be required to ensure we are addressing known and emerging risks.
Scotland is generally performing well by UK, European and global comparison, with both ambient concentrations and mass emissions of the main air pollutants largely continuing to fall (with the notable exception of ammonia) as a result of actions taken to date, both nationally and internationally. More remains to be done though, not least as we better understand the impacts of air pollution on human health and the natural environment.
Since our original Cleaner Air For Scotland strategy was published, we have introduced some of the most ambitious legislation in the world to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045; published our Environment Strategy which emphasises the fundamental role our natural environment plays in supporting a fairer, healthier, more inclusive society; updated our National Transport Strategy; and taken major steps to reform Scotland’s planning system. To maximise the benefits from action to tackle poor air quality, it is essential that we build on the linkages with these and other key policies.
This draft strategy sets out the Scottish Government’s proposals for delivering further air quality improvements over the next five years. All of this is necessary if we are to secure our vision of Scotland having the best air quality in Europe – a quality of air that aims to protect and enhance health, wellbeing and the environment.
The proposals in this consultation are built on the work of an independently-led review. I would like to place on record my thanks to Professor Campbell Gemmell and members of the steering group for the valuable advice and insight they provided through their work. I would also wish to recognise all those that contributed to the review, including members of the four supporting expert groups.
Roseanna Cunningham MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform