CLEANER Air for Scotland, which is our first distinct air quality strategy, has been produced in partnership with a number of organisation across the public and private sector, and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who was involved for all their hard work and encourage them to continue to provide their support and input. I am delighted that we now have a publication that sets out actions across government portfolios that will further reduce air quality, with a particular emphasis on protecting human health and reducing health inequalities.


Although we are facing increased challenges as a result of emerging evidence around the under-performance of EU diesel vehicle emissions standards, as well as breaches of emissions testing regulations by certain manufacturers, I must be clear that in recent decades, polluting outputs from domestic and industrial premises have been reduced, as have emissions from transport through tighter fuel and exhaust emissions standards.


These improvements are widely recognised and rightly so – what is less evident to members of the public is that, despite these efforts, pockets of poorer air quality still remain in many of our towns and cities.


This makes the Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy all the more significant. It recognises the contribution that better air quality can make to the Government’s Purpose, including protecting the natural environment for the people of Scotland – and I welcome the support and commendation our efforts received from the European Environment Agency yesterday when the strategy launched.


We are committed to improving air quality across the country and the strategy raises Government ambitions. From it we will develop a national air quality awareness campaign that will inform key audiences and encourage behavioural change – public participation and engagement is key if we are to deliver cleaner air.


And the objective is clear: we must deliver cleaner air. Air pollution remains a significant public health issue, particularly for those with existing conditions such as asthma and heart disease. This leads to more frequent episodes of ill health, overall reduced life expectancy, and a serious collective impact on our society.


Poor air quality is also a social issue. It affects the more vulnerable members of the population disproportionately. Such inequalities resulting from air pollution are simply unacceptable.


It is my vision that Scotland’s air quality becomes the best in Europe. In setting this target the Scottish Government recognises that poor air quality is an international issue. Through Cleaner Air for Scotland, I want us to demonstrate our level of ambition, but at the same time to learn from good practice elsewhere.


We cannot achieve the aims of Cleaner Air for Scotland alone. In order to successfully address air pollution, and achieve the outcome we all want and need then we must work together. The Government, its agencies, local authorities, business and industry, professional institutions, non-governmental organisations, and the general public: we all have our part to play.


Publication of the strategy is in many ways just the beginning of the journey, rather than the end. The measure of its success will be in the delivery its objectives. I hope that we can all be inspired to make a real difference to the quality of the air that we breathe.


And so, with great commitment to work together towards this goal, the vision of our Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy can be realised, helping to create and maintain a strong, healthy and fair society, with clean air for all.”


Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform

Government launches new strategy to improve air quality in Scottish towns and cities