Scotland is famous for its fresh clean air but air pollution still blights some towns and cities. We’ve overcome similar challenges in the past and we can do so again.

Why air quality matters

Despite strict controls on industrial emissions, improvements to fuel and emissions standards of vehicles, and control of smoke from domestic premises, air pollution still harms human health and the environment. In Scotland in 2010 fine particulate matter – one of the main causes of air pollution – was associated with 2,000 premature deaths and 22,500 lost life-years across the whole population. Improving air quality is a complex problem: the effects are not immediately visible and the causes and impacts are spread between different sectors. Solving it will require collaboration and bold leadership.

What is the solution?

In 2015 the Scottish Government published their Cleaner Air For Scotland strategy with the ambition of making our air the cleanest in Europe. The Strategy will develop a National Modelling Framework to assess areas at most risk and a National Low Emissions Framework which will help deliver the most appropriate on the ground solutions.

The Strategy makes provision for Low Emission Zones in Scotland, with the first to be implemented in 2018. It also sets out the importance of changing behaviour including encouraging more use of public transport and active travel and a national public awareness campaign to encourage swift, co-ordinated action on this important subject.

How Sniffer is helping to improve air quality

Sniffer has been working in partnership with stakeholders from across the Transport, Healthcare, Communities and Environment sectors to develop and foster shared solutions to air quality issues.

In 2015, we carried out phone interviews and an online survey as part of the consultation on the draft Strategy to ensure the insights of harder to reach stakeholders were reflected in the final Strategy. We subsequently held a workshop with the Cleaner Air for Scotland Partners, which brought together all consultation responses for review and prioritisation to shape the final Strategy.

In 2015, we also led the co-design and delivery of a series of regional engagement workshops with local Councillors in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee to raise the profile of air quality issues with local authority decision makers. Local Authorities have key powers aimed at tackling air quality and can become catalysts for large-scale change when they take co-ordinated action. You can read more about how our workshop design and delivery process ensured maximum impact in this case study.

In 2017, we designed and hosted a series of engagement workshops with bus operators and other bus sector stakeholders on the design and implementation of Low Emission Zones (LEZs). These workshops focused on Scotland's four largest urban centres, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. They provided an opportunity for bus operators, supporting industries and customer representatives to identify what impacts LEZs might have and helped Transport Scotland understand what support might be required to successfully implement LEZs. You can read more about these workshops and Sniffer's recommendations in the report below.

What next?

Sniffer specialises in collaborative design and delivery of bespoke engagement approaches for different stakeholders groups. We will continue to work collaboratively with others to help achieve clean, healthy air for everyone. If you would like to work with us to design and deliver an engagement approach to help move your environmental challenge forward, please get in touch.


Low Emissions Zones - Bus sector perspectives from Scotland's major cities