The air that we breathe is fundamental to the health of our people and planet. Air pollution places quality of life and our precious natural environment at short – and long-term risk. Despite the massive improvements in air quality in recent years, sustained and systemic action continues to be required to ensure we keep making progress.
Scotland is 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). This is 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 both human health and the quality of our environment.
Since our original Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy was published in 2015, we have:
- introduced 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;
- established Scotland's first Low Emission Zone in Glasgow;
- become the first country in Europe to include the World Health Organization guideline value for PM2.5 in domestic legislation;
- put in place a national PM2.5 monitoring network;
- committed to reducing motor vehicle kilometers by 20% by 2030;
- increased our active travel funding to £500 million over five years from 2020-21; and
- taken major steps to reform Scotland's planning system.
In total, 36 of the 40 actions set out in Cleaner Air for Scotland have been fully completed, with the remainder being carried over into this strategy.
To maximise the benefits from action to tackle poor air quality, it is essential that we build on the linkages with other key government policies and strategies across transport, climate change, health, environment, planning, energy and land use. That's exactly what we're doing.
This new air quality strategy sets out how the Scottish Government will continue to deliver 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 actions set out in this strategy are built on the work of an independently-led review of Cleaner Air for Scotland completed in 2019. 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.
Màiri McAllan MSP,
Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform