Under the National Air Quality Strategy local authorities need to assess air quality within their areas. Where necessary they must draw up an action plan of measures to improve air quality. All Scottish authorities have now completed their first review and assessments.
Ms Boyack said:
'For the vast majority of people in Scotland air quality is extremely good. However we cannot afford to be complacent; we know that air pollution damages people's health and the environment. More than half of Scotland's local authorities have identified the possibility of localised air quality 'hot-spots', particularly in urban areas with heavily trafficked roads. This requires further investigation so that they can assess whether air quality objectives will be met.
'Further funds will be made available later in the year to investigate the extent of the problem in Scotland posed by airborne fine particulate matter.'
1. The National Air Quality Strategy, published in 1997, sets health based objectives for eight major air pollutants and established new responsibilities for local authorities to manage local air quality. They need to assess air quality in their areas regularly and declare an Air Quality Management Area where any health based objectives are unlikely to be met by 2005. Councils have a duty to prepare an action plan proposing ways to remedy the situation, which may include traffic management measures.
2. In order to assist Scottish local authorities with this new responsibility a Specific Capital Consent Scheme was established last year to assist authorities to purchase air quality monitoring equipment. A total of almost£500,000 was allocated in 1998-1999 for this purpose.
3. This year the scheme is being targeted at those authorities which have identified possible breaches of one or more of the air quality objectives, and need to investigate air quality in their area in more detail. The scheme has been extended to cover compilation of emission inventories and air quality modelling as well as monitoring equipment. This will allow authorities to undertake in-depth analyses of both existing and future air quality levels.
4. Further funding of up to£150,000 (making a total of£500,000) will be available later in the year. A proportion of these funds is being held back until the position on monitoring particles becomes clearer following recent consultation on the review of the National Air quality Strategy, which proposes replacing the existing objective for PM10 with the new EC Air Quality Directive limit value for 2004.