Cleaner air for Scotland: the road to a healthier future

A strategy setting out the Scottish Government's proposals for delivering further improvements to air quality.

9. Communication

A Scotland where all citizens are well informed, engaged, and empowered to improve our air quality.

Communication today – communicating air pollution information

9.1 Currently, air quality lacks a single indicator that is recognised and easily understood by the general public and others in the way that CO 2 emissions are associated with climate change. A key obstacle to developing such an indicator for air quality is the range of different pollutants that contribute to air pollution.

9.2 The Daily Air Quality Index [94] is used by most air pollution information services in the UK and is based on a banding system approved by COMEAP. This is the best currently available representation of overall air pollution. To complement this, the Scottish Government has started to work on developing an air quality indicator specific
to Scotland.

We will:

  • Develop a Scottish Air Quality Indicator to assist in assessing compliance with air quality legislation and delivery of CAFS objectives.

Case study 11

In town without my car – Aberdeen City Council

During September 2015, Aberdeen City Council and NESTRANS using the Getabout Aberdeen brand organised a week of events aligned to European Mobility Week, to encourage the public to ‘Choose, Change, Combine’ when considering transport choice.

Since 2002 European Mobility Week has influenced mobility and urban transport issues, as well as improved the health and quality of life of citizens. The campaign gives the public the opportunity to explore what the role of city streets really is, and to explore solutions to tackle urban challenges, such as air pollution.

Communication tomorrow – what more do we need to do?

9.3 Encouraging behavioural change to help achieve the aims of CAFS will require a communications approach focused on the actions that our key audiences (see paragraph 9.5) can take. We will link into existing Greener Scotland climate change campaigns, which have previously focused on specific messaging such as encouraging more people to walk or cycle for shorter journeys. As outlined in paragraph 5.12, the communication strategy will focus on promoting and marketing the wider health and environmental benefits of tackling air quality. It is essential that the key messages clearly show how:

  • air pollution has a direct impact on citizens’ own lives;
  • individual actions can affect air quality; and
  • making personal changes will benefit an individual’s health and wellbeing, besides creating more attractive and sustainable places in which to live and work.

9.4 Links will also be created with other initiatives such as Environmental Protection Scotland’s Breathe Scotland campaign [95] and various local community and citizen science projects within schools in particular (see Aberdeen City Council and Fife Council case studies 12 and 13 for recent examples in Scotland).

9.5 The three key audiences are central
and local government, business and the general public. The goal must be to make sure they are:

  • well informed about, knowledgeable of, and responsible for their contribution to, protecting and enhancing air quality, specifically the impacts and benefits to health and wellbeing; for example, reducing the burden on health services or fewer working days lost to sickness absence; and
  • aware of the actions they can take to reduce their own pollution footprint.

9.6 To support this, we will produce a national public awareness campaign, with input from the Cleaner Air for Scotland Governance Group and Health Protection Scotland in particular, to focus on:

providing technical scientific evidence on the Scottish Air Quality website for all three audiences;

  • utilising the Scotland’s Environment website and the Scottish Transport Emissions Partnership to promote air quality and engage central/local government and business audiences through seminars, social media and conferences;
  • using variable message signs – and other forms of advertising – on our road network to communicate with drivers about how to reduce the impacts of air pollution;
  • using the citizen science approach to promote air quality to young people; and
  • conducting research to understand the general public’s awareness of the links between air quality and public health, and test whether raising such awareness would strengthen or weaken behaviour change.

9.7 Following this, we will aim to identify the key behaviours and, through engagement with the Greener Scotland campaign, highlight the measures that the three audiences can take.

We will:

  • Support the ongoing Greener Scotland communication campaigns, encouraging individuals to use the car less to improve their health and their local environment
  • Develop a national air quality public awareness campaign

Case study 12

TRY IT Cupar campaign – Fife Council

The Bonnygate area of Cupar was designated an Air Quality Management Area after monitoring showed levels of two pollutants, nitrogen dioxide ( NO 2) and fine particles ( PM 10), exceeded air quality objectives. The main cause of this is high traffic volumes in the narrow Bonnygate, with the results of a travel survey showing that 53% of all journeys made by residents of Cupar were to destinations within the town. An action plan to tackle the problem was approved in November 2010.

  • To engage directly with the challenge, Fife Council introduced the TRY IT Cupar campaign to engage directly with the local community on the air quality challenge. This involved the following:
  • An extensive marketing and public communications campaign.
  • Trained Travel Advisors offered personalised travel planning at the doorstep of all households in the Bonnygate area to encourage people to walk, cycle or use public transport when making trips within the town.
  • Information on walking and cycling groups and how sustainable travel can improve their health and fitness, help take care of their town, and even meet new people was made available to all residents of Cupar.
  • Fife Council is now working in partnership with residents and local community groups to make Cupar a more sustainable community, increasing the use of public transport and encouraging people to cycle and walk when possible.


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