5. Summary of Assessment findings, Mitigation and Enhancement
5.1. Assessment findings
5.1.1 The draft CAFS2 is likely to have significant positive effects on air quality, population and human health and climatic factors. This is likely to result from new legislative proposals to control the supply of the most polluting domestic fuels coupled with new supportive measures to target domestic emissions.
5.1.2 Actions identified to target agricultural emissions, nitrogen deposition and environmental impacts, including a code of good agricultural practice for Scotland (theme 7) has potential to further contribute to positive effects on these topics. Further, drawing together existing air quality improvement polices and proposals in a co-ordinated way across a range of topic areas including health, planning and transport (themes 2, 5, 6, and 8), can cumulatively contribute to broad positive effects for air quality, population and human health and climatic factors.
5.1.3 The potential for effects in combination with other PPS has also been considered. The draft CAFS2 has the potential to positively and cumulatively contribute across a wide range of Scottish Government policy areas. Air quality improvement is captured across a range of national plans, policies and programmes (for example placemaking and sustainable transport policy) and these are recognised within the draft CAFS2.
5.1.4 Taking into account the high level nature of the draft CAFS2, there is a degree of uncertainty regarding the environmental impacts that may arise as a result of future actions targeting domestic and agricultural emissions, nitrogen deposition and environmental impacts (theme 7). The assessment also identifies the potential for localised positive effects on the majority of SEA topics (air, population and human health, water, soil, biodiversity and material assets) as a result of actions undertaken to support the implementation of theme 7. For example, actions focusing on agricultural emissions such as the development of a voluntary code of agricultural practice for improving air quality in Scotland has the potential to realise localised positive effects on soil, water, biodiversity and material assets. Where any future plans, projects, and proposals are developed as a result of actions identified by CAFS2, these will themselves be subject to consideration in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.
5.2.1 The 2005 Act requires that ‘the measures envisaged to prevent, reduce and as fully as possible offset any significant adverse effects on the environment of implementing the plan or programme’ are outlined within the Environmental Report.
5.2.2 The assessment has identified a range of potential environmental effects, and has concluded that the proposals in the draft Strategy would not result in any potential significant negative environmental effects. Therefore, no mitigation measures are identified.
5.3. Conclusions and Opportunities for Enhancement
5.3.1 The SEA findings support the inclusion of theme 7 as actions associated with targeting domestic and agricultural emissions, nitrogen deposition and environmental impacts go further than CAFS (2015) which focused on transport as the largest source of urban air quality issues. In regard to actions identified to address and support a reduction in domestic combustion emissions, the SEA findings support the introduction of legislation to control the supply of the most polluting domestic fuels. This is because a consistent national approach, as opposed to local approach is likely to have a greater impact on reducing domestic combustion emissions.
5.3.2 In regard to actions targeting agricultural emissions, nitrogen deposition and environmental impacts, the SEA findings support the inclusion of actions that seek to further consider risks associated with ecological effects from nitrogen deposition such as the development of a voluntary agricultural code and research.
5.3.3 Further, and voluntary code of good agricultural practice could be subject to an early review process to assess its effectiveness and compliance. If a review indicates that insufficient progress is made, the need for direct regulatory intervention will be considered. In the event further regulatory intervention was progressed, this SEA can provide a useful starting point in considering opportunities for realising wider environmental benefits.
5.3.4 The SEA findings support the inclusion of theme 1 and 5 as actions that support research and public engagement and behaviour change can contribute to continued efforts to reduce preventable air pollution and support the delivery of long term sustained change in environmental quality generally, and air pollution specifically.
5.3.5 The SEA findings support the inclusion of theme 2 and 6 as actions that support strong policy alignment across wider Scottish Government policy objectives. This is because air pollution, climate change, carbon reduction and mobility are strongly interconnected. Effective policy co-ordination across these broad themes, at both central and local government levels, can help to realise multiple environmental benefits.
5.3.6 The SEA findings support the inclusion of theme 3 and 8 as actions that draw together existing place-making and sustainable transport policy. Embedding place-making principles for example, with a strong focus on nature based solutions, across policy areas can support a cleaner, healthier and more attractive environment. Similarly, sustainable transport policy for example, that promotes active travel has the potential to increase physical activity, significantly reduce cardiovascular incidence and mortality, and has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality. Measures to reduce air pollution from road transport and to increase levels of active travel can therefore amplify benefits to public health.
Opportunities for enhancement
5.3.7 Opportunities for enhancement have been identified in relation to themes 7 (Tackling Non-Transport Emissions Sources), 1 (Health) and 2 (Integrating policy); and the wider policy proposals.
5.3.8 To obtain maximum environmental benefits under theme 7 (Domestic emissions) a particular focus could be given to urban areas/ those outside existing Smoke Control Areas as a means to realise greatest impact.
5.3.9 To obtain the maximum environmental benefits under theme 7 (agricultural emissions, nitrogen deposition and environmental impacts), it is recommended that early and targeted action should be focused on agricultural practices that can realise multiple environmental benefits. This includes a focus on practices which can deliver both ammonia emission reductions and support the recovery of as much nitrogen as possible. Not only will this reduce agricultural emissions but can contribute to positive localised effects on people, water, soil, biodiversity and material assets.
5.3.10 To obtain the maximum environmental benefits under health and integrated policy proposals (themes 1 and 2) a focus could be given to evidence and research focused on urbanised/deprived areas as these are recognised as being more vulnerable to air pollution.
5.3.11 To obtain maximum environmental benefits across the wider policy proposals, there may be further opportunities to identify alignment with other existing Scottish Government policy and to apply lessons learnt from COVID-19 as a means to further support improved air quality.
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