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.

2. Structure

Vision, Mission and Objectives

Scotland’s air quality will be the best in Europe.

To protect and enhance health, wellbeing, environment, place-making and sustainable economic growth through improved air quality across Scotland.


A Scotland which protects its citizens from the harmful effects of air pollution, reducing health inequalities.

We will:

  • Include in legislation as Scottish objectives World Health Organisation guideline values for PM 10 and PM 2.5
  • Require NHS boards and their local authority partners to include reference to air quality and health in the next revision of their Joint Health Protection Plans, which should identify and address specific local priority issues


A Scotland where air quality is not compromised by new or existing development and where places are designed to minimise air pollution and its effects.

We will:

  • Ensure that future updates and revisions to Scottish Planning Policy and the National Planning Framework take account of CAFS
  • Expect planning authorities to review the Local Development Plan and revise at the next scheduled update to ensure policies are consistent with CAFS objectives and any local authority air quality action plans
  • Work with Environmental Protection Scotland to produce updated guidance on air quality and planning
  • Work with SEPA to introduce air quality training for local spatial and transport planners.
  • Support SEPA in revising its guidance on Strategic Environmental Assessment to bring it into line with CAFS


A Scotland that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and achieves its renewable energy targets whilst delivering co-benefits for air quality.

We will:

  • Ensure that future updates to the Second Report on Proposals and Policies on meeting our climate change targets take into account air quality impacts
  • Expect any Scottish local authority which has or is currently developing a Sustainable Energy Action Plan to ensure that air quality considerations are covered
  • Work with Forestry Commission Scotland to publish updated guidance on the impact of biomass on air quality to help local authorities fulfil their statutory responsibilities


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

We will:

  • Develop a Scottish Air Quality Indicator to assist in assessing compliance with air quality legislation and delivery of CAFS objectives
  • Develop a national air quality public awareness campaign
  • Support the ongoing Greener Scotland communication campaigns, encouraging individuals to use the car less to improve their health and their local environment


A Scotland where all European and Scottish legal requirements relating to air quality are as a minimum complied with.

We will:

  • Implement a refocused Local Air Quality Management system
  • Establish a PM 2.5 monitoring network
  • Produce revised and updated Scottish action plans to demonstrate how compliance with the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive will be achieved
  • Design, develop and implement a two-level modelling system for regional and local scales to provide evidence for appraising and identifying potential transport and planning solutions to local air quality issues
  • Evaluate the requirements of a regional model and then support its development during the first two years of implementing CAFS.
  • Develop guidance and promote a support network for all practitioners involved in reviewing and assessing local impacts on air quality resulting from regional decision making.
  • Undertake detailed modelling of all four major cities in Scotland, covering areas associated with highest levels of poor air quality
  • Identify requirements and undertake data collection for additional urban areas within three years of implementing CAFS
  • Implement the national databases for traffic data collection and local modelling outputs associated with CAFS
  • By April 2016, in further consultation with partner organisations, ensure the NLEF criteria, tests, and processes are developed, agreed, and finalised
  • Design and implement a standard appraisal process for assessing local air quality measures
  • Develop the software tools and associated guidance for the NLEF, including funding options and technical reports, which will underpin the evidence on effectiveness of options


A Scotland that reduces transport emissions by supporting the uptake of low and zero emission fuels and technologies, promoting a modal shift away from the car, through active travel (walking and cycling) and reducing the need to travel.

We will:

  • Ensure that all local authorities have a corporate travel plan (perhaps within their carbon management plan) which is consistent with any local air quality action plan
  • Finalise and deliver the National Walking Strategy Delivery Plan by 2016
  • Work collaboratively with delivery partners to deliver our shared vision in the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland that by 2020, 10% of everyday journeys will be made by bike
  • Review support for green buses by 2016, including scope for supporting retrofitting existing vehicles, taking account of technological and market developments and the need to tackle air quality as well as climate change
  • Evaluate the Bus Investment Fund in 2016 to learn from supported projects and inform decisions on options for future support for local projects to improve public transport
  • Review the Bus Operators Grant by 2016, including consideration of options to incentivise the use of low emission buses
  • Review guidance and legislation on local transport authority powers regarding bus services by 2016 to see if they could be made more effective and to ensure sufficient consideration is given to air quality alongside other considerations
  • Continue delivery of actions contained in Switched On Scotland: A Roadmap to Widespread Adoption of Plug-In Vehicles
  • Review the Roadmap and develop a post-2015 plug-in vehicle action plan
  • Work with key partners to investigate the use of hydrogen as a transport fuel, as well as exploring wider environmental and economic opportunities of using hydrogen for energy applications – especially in promoting renewables, energy balancing and storage
  • Continue to engage with our partners on the role lower carbon intensive fuels such as liquid petroleum gas, compressed natural gas and biofuels can play in the transition towards a near zero emission road transport sector by 2050
  • Encourage Freight Quality Partnerships to extend their activities to include consideration of the environmental impact of freight transport
  • Encourage local authorities with an AQMA to establish a Freight Quality Partnership – or utilise an existing RTP Freight Quality Partnership – to consider appropriate measures to achieve local air quality improvement by 2017
  • Review existing Ministerial guidance on Regional and Local Transport Strategies in the light of the refreshed National Transport Strategy. In doing so, we will consider how air quality management should be addressed and how RTPs and local authorities should use their transport strategies to support modal shift towards sustainable and active travel, including through Smarter Choices initiatives, and promote the take up of greener vehicles
  • Review trunk road impacts on AQMAs by 2016 and implement mitigation where trunk roads are the primary contributor to air pollutants by 2020


2.1 Positive action on air quality will only be realised through strong national and local political leadership. There are clear links between transport, environment, health and economic development and both national and local levels of government. With this in mind, the Scottish Government is working closely with its agencies, regional transport partnerships, local authorities (transport, urban and land-use planners and environmental health), developers, employers, businesses and citizens to take action that will improve air quality.

2.2 The actions set out in CAFS cover areas which can be most influenced by the Scottish Government in partnership with others from across the public and private sectors. Local authorities in particular have a key role to play, with the Scottish Government providing support, advice and policy direction.

2.3 A CAFS Governance Group, supported by specialist subgroups, will be established to oversee implementation of CAFS (Figure 3). A number of members already have clear responsibilities with respect to air quality policy and action implementation.

2.4 The Scottish Transport Emissions Partnership ( STEP) [16] will be the principal mechanism for engaging with, and providing feedback to, the Governance Group from a broad community of professionals within our key audiences (as outlined in Section 9). If local authority air quality management groups are established, STEP will support these, particularly in relation to bespoke training for transport and planning professionals.

2.5 An annual CAFS progress report will be produced by the Scottish Government, to cover progress on the actions and the development of measures which require further investigation or research. The findings will be considered for inclusion in the climate change reporting forms of the public bodies represented on the Governance Group (also advocating that air quality is included in future revisions to the form template).

2.6 We will use Key Performance Indicators to measure progress against CAFS actions (see Section 12).

2.7 Where possible, funding and resources have been identified for each action. Where this is not possible at present, the Scottish Government and partner organisations will continue to work towards securing the necessary funding and will provide updates in the annual progress report.

Figure 3. Cleaner Air for Scotland governance

Figure 3. Cleaner Air for Scotland governance


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