Efforts to improve air quality in Fife have been highlighted as an example of ‘best practice’.
Fife Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland to develop an Air Quality Strategy, and its progress report setting out an overview of air quality and how issues should be tackled has been described as ‘thorough’ and ‘comprehensive’ by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
In general, Fife’s air quality is good, but pollution can be caused by a range of substances being released into the air.
Emissions from vehicles – nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter – are the main sources of air pollution for local authorities to deal with, and Fife Council has established an extensive monitoring network targeted at the busiest roads.
Roy Stewart, senior manager for protective services, said: “Fife Council is committed to protecting and improving the Kingdom’s air quality.
“This is an important public health and community safety issue, as clean air is essential for our health and to protect our environment. Research from Health Protection Scotland shows that air pollution is responsible for over 2000 deaths in Scotland each year and costs the NHS up to £2 billion annually.
“Actions taken to tackle air pollution caused by traffic congestion include traffic flow improvements, the promotion of cycling and walking, and the adoption of cleaner, greener technologies, such as low emission vehicles.”
Bonnygate in Cupar and Appin Crescent in Dunfermline were previously identified as potential ‘pollution hotspots’ and action plans were implemented to reduce the concentration of pollutants, mainly caused by the build-up of traffic.
Latest monitoring results at these locations have revealed significant air quality improvements.
Further council-led initiatives to tackle air quality issues include the introduction of a greener fleet of vehicles to reduce emissions, the establishment of an extensive electric vehicle charging network, and the setting up of the Fife ECO stars project, encouraging fleet operators to improve their eco-credentials, with this scheme set to be extended to taxis later this year.
Councillor Margaret Kennedy, who chairs the council’s safer communities committee, said: “Improved air quality makes a crucial contribution to enhancing the quality of life for communities and creating sustainable economic growth.
“Our clear and credible strategy to reduce air pollution is being praised on a national level. This is important because high levels of air pollution are linked to both short term and long term effects on health including asthma and other respiratory problems.”