Scotland must make improvements to achieve the best air quality in Europe


A Holyrood Committee has outlined a number of recommendations in order for Scotland to try to achieve the cleanest air in Europe.

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee has published its Air Quality report today, following an inquiry into the Scottish Government’s strategy to tackle harmful emissions and how well this fits into the overall plans to cut pollution in the UK and EU.

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Convener, Graeme Dey MSP, said:

“Poor air quality remains an issue in a number of our towns and cities across Scotland, and effective change is needed now so that all of us can breathe clean air and lead healthy lives in the future.

“While we recognise that the Scottish Government has ambitious targets to tackle pollution, we have questions on whether the necessary support is going to be in place to achieve these.

“For example, while we support low emission zones and the phasing out of polluting cars to stop toxic and traffic-choked streets, we are seeking clarity on how this will be delivered.”

Some of the key findings in the report include…

Diesel cars

  • Emissions from diesel cars is one of the major contributors to poor air quality and the Committee supports the decision to phase out petrol, diesel cars and vans by 2032.
  • But the Scottish Government must provide a clear timeline for how it intends to reach this commitment, including any regulations or incentives.

Low emission zones (LEZs)

  • The Committee supports LEZs but it has concerns on the tight timescale to get these up and running.
  • It also questions whether local authorities have the technical and financial resources to ensure they are fully operational by 2018 and beyond.
  • The Committee believes that private cars should be included in LEZs, in order to fully contribute to improvements in air quality.

Transport and active travel

  • The decrease in passenger numbers on buses over the 5 years is concerning. While access to buses, particularly in rural communities, touches on wider issues, the affordability, availability and accessibility of buses is a significant contributor to helping people leave their cars at home.
  • To meet air quality and wider climate change targets, increasing the number of journeys by bike to 10% and beyond is necessary. The Scottish Government should complete a full review of why the percentage of journeys only rose by 0.2% between 2010 and 2016.

Notes to editors

Find out more about the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee.

Read the Air Quality Report via this link