Air Quality in Scotland


About the Inquiry

Air quality represents the greatest environmental threat to human health and currently commands significant domestic and international interest. Elevated pollution levels, usually located in urban areas with high volumes of road traffic, have been associated with a number of health issues, including heart disease and lung cancer. Air pollution can also have damaging effects on the environment and crop productivity. The sources of air pollution are distributed across many sectors, including transport, agriculture and energy industries.

The Scottish Government published a strategy for tackling air pollution in Scotland in 2015 – “Cleaner Air for Scotland: the road to a healthier future” which sets targets for Scotland. Since the strategy was launched the EU has introduced a new directive to reduce air pollution and there has been a High Court judgement in relation to the adequacy of the UK response. The Scottish Government published the 2016 CAFS Progress Report on 15 June 2017.

The Committee held an evidence session with experts and stakeholders on 2 May 2017 to consider the scale of the issue of air quality in Scotland and the robustness of Scottish plans to tackle this.

The Committee agreed to consider what, if any further action to take at a future meeting. On 6 June 2017 the Committee agreed to undertake an inquiry on air quality in Scotland.


The Committee hosted a call for evidence and asked for views on the following:

  • Does Scotland have the right polices (Clean Air for Scotland Strategy), support and incentives in place to adequately tackle air pollution?
  • Are the policies sufficiently ambitious?
  • Are the policies and delivery mechanisms (support and incentives) being effectively implemented and successful in addressing the issues?
  • Are there conflicts in policies or barriers to successful delivery of the air quality objectives? 


  • How does the Scottish policy fit with the UK and EU policy on air quality?
  • Are the powers and resources of Local Authorities and SEPA to address air pollution adequate?
  • Is Scotland on target to have a pilot low emission zone (LEZ) in place by 2018 and should there be more than one LEZ pilot?
  • How should the improvement of air quality be prioritised in areas where there have been persistent breaches of NO2 limit values?
  • Is adequate consideration given to air pollution from agriculture?

The responses recieved by the Committee are available at the link below.

Read written submissions on Air Quality in Scotland


The Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform at the launch of its call for evidence to seek further information on the implementation of the Scottish Government's Cleaner Air for Scotland: the road to a healthier future strategy.


The Committee published its Air Quality in Scotland inquiry report on 28 February 2018.

The Scottish Government provided its response on 31 May 2018

Scottish Government Progress Report on Low Emission Zones - June 2018

Report follow up

The Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary seeking an update on progress made by the Scottish Government towards meeting the recommendations of the Committee’s report. Read the letter and the response below:

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