We have progressively reduced air pollution in Scotland over recent years, but poor air quality – predominantly caused by road transport – remains an issue at a number of hotspots in our towns and cities. In the Cleaner Air for Scotland: The Road to a Healthier Future (CAFS) strategy, published in November 2015, we therefore committed to ensuring that Scotland’s air quality will be the best in Europe.
Improving air quality must be at the centre of the Scottish Government’s transport and placemaking decision making, to ensure we maximise the real and tangible health benefits associated with cleaner air. To support this, the Scottish Government has committed to
- with local authorities, introduce Low Emission Zones (LEZs) into our four biggest cities between 2018 and 2020 and into all other Air Quality Management Areas by 2023 where the National Low Emission Framework (NLEF) appraisals advocate such mitigation;
- introduce an Air Quality Fund to support local authorities with Air Quality Management Areas to deliver transport based mitigation as identified by the NLEF; and
- work with the commercial and bus sectors, the Energy Saving Trust and the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership to introduce an Engine Retrofitting Centre in Scotland to support the delivery of LEZs, creating new jobs and with the goal of winning business from outwith Scotland.
Following the May 2017 local elections, several local authorities in major Scottish cities have made positive statements around LEZs, and we are encouraged to see the strong political will across local government to support the building of Scotland’s LEZs.
Local authorities have longstanding expert knowledge about their air pollution challenges, and are best placed to take the lead in addressing air pollution hotspots.
However, we also recognise there must be collaboration and partnerships between Government, its agencies, local authorities, regional transport partnerships, business and industry, non-governmental organisations and the general public to successfully deliver LEZs.
We look forward to receiving your views on our questions and proposals on Building Scotland’s Low Emission Zones.