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Fife council highlights thorough air quality work

The council launched its Air Quality Strategy for 2015-2020 earlier this year

Fife council has highlighted its work to tackle air pollution following the launch earlier this year of its air quality strategy, which it claims has attracted praise from regulators and the Scottish Government.

Fife council claims there have been recent improvements in pollution levels in Dunfermline (pictured) and Cupar

Fife council claims there have been recent improvements in pollution levels in Dunfermline (pictured) and Cupar

Fife claims to be one of the first local authorities to develop an Air Quality Strategy, which was launched earlier this year and covers the next five years up to 2020.

It sets out the council’s vision of how air quality issues will be tackled, following research from Health Protection Scotland showing that air pollution is responsible for over 2,000 deaths in Scotland each year and costs the NHS up to £2bn annually.

Emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) are the main sources of air pollution, although the council states that the air quality in Fife is generally good and it operates an “extensive monitoring network targeted at the busiest roadsâ€?.

Nevertheless, the Bonnygate in Cupar and Appin Crescent in Dunfermline were previously identified as potential pollution hotspots, resulting in Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) being declared in each area in 2008 and 2012 respectively, with action plans subsequently implemented to reduce pollutant concentrations.

However, monitoring results in the latest progress report at these locations reveal “significant air quality improvementsâ€? the council said.

And, according to the council, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) recently described the authority’s air quality progress report as both ‘thorough’ and ‘comprehensive’, and an example of ‘best practice’.

Roy Stewart, Fife council’s senior manager for protective services, said: “Fife council is committed to protecting and improving the Kingdom’s air quality. The improvements and first-rate progress in protecting and improving air quality in Fife are a breath of fresh air for local communities. This is an important public health and community safety issue, as clean air is essential for our health and to protect our environment.

“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.â€?

Measures

Other Fife council-led schemes aimed at tackling air pollution include the introduction of a cleaner fleet of vehicles to reduce emissions and establishing one of the “most extensive electric vehicle charging networks in Scotlandâ€?.

Fife’s two refuse collection vehicles are to be converted to run on diesel and hydrogen fuel, which the council claims are a “world-first of their kindâ€?. The vehicles will become part of the Levenmouth Community Energy Project, which aims to position the region as a “world leader in clean energyâ€?.

Meanwhile, the Fife ‘ECO Stars’ project, which encourages local fleet operators to improve their fleet’s eco-credentials, is also set to expand to taxis later in the year.

Councillor Margaret Kennedy, chair of Fife council’s safer communities committee, said: “My priority is to protect the well-being and environment of Fifers. 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.â€?

The council’s air quality strategy was developed in partnership with the Scottish Government, SEPA, NHS Fife, Transport Scotland, Sestran, the Road Haulage Association, Environmental Protection Scotland and Scottish National Heritage working together to tackle air quality issues.

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