BIG improvements in air quality in Dunfermline could lead to monitoring being scaled back but Fife Council aren't sure if the readings are accurate.

Locals should be able to breathe a little easier in the Appin Crescent area as reports say levels of pollution, caused mainly by vehicle exhaust fumes, have dropped.

However, the council have admitted there's "uncertainty" about the figures.

Kenny Bisset, lead officer in the land and air quality team, told councillors: "Monitoring has continued across Fife and results show improvements in air quality within both air quality managements areas (in Dunfermline and Cupar).

"The Scottish Government and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) are supportive of our approach and accept the conclusions of our progress report for 2021.

"Also, both the government and SEPA have advised that Fife Council consider revoking the two air quality management areas in Fife, given the results recorded.

"However, uncertainty regarding particulate matter concentrations being reported by different analysers has been identified in the UK and the Scottish Government have commissioned a study to investigate this issue.

"We are awaiting the results of this study to ensure the accuracy of our results before looking into the revocation process for the two air quality management areas or air pollution zones."

Councillors were told that fumes from vehicle exhausts was the "key air quality issue in Fife" with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) the "pollutants of concern".

Where air pollution levels are exceeded regularly, the local authority must declare an air quality management area and come up with an action plan setting out measures to try to resolve the problem.

There are two such areas at Appin Crescent in Dunfermline and Bonnygate in Cupar, while monitoring for NO2 and PM10 also takes place at Admiralty Road in Rosyth.

The council said the action plans for both areas had been successful to the point that NO2 is no longer considered an issue – levels practically halved in Dunfermline between 2007 and 2020 – due to the "significant decline in concentrations".

However, while they said the levels of NO2 and PM10 dropped in Dunfermline and Rosyth, the council's progress report for 2021 appears to use figures from last year, when lockdown and a work from home order meant there was a big drop in traffic levels.

Figures from 2021, compiled by Friends of the Earth Scotland, show that almost a third of Scotland’s streets have higher levels of harmful and choking fumes than they did before the pandemic. 

The report, which we ran last month, included areas in Dunfermline and Rosyth.

It said levels of air pollution dropped last year but have now bounced back and are even higher than they were in 2019.  

It said levels of NO2 on Admiralty Road in 2019 were 17.4 microgrammes per cubic metre, in 2020 that dropped to 11.2 but this year it's back up to 17.7.

While PM10 levels averaged at 10 in 2019, they rose to 14.5 in 2021, after a slight fall to 9.4 last year.

Meanwhile, pollution levels at Viewfield Terrace in Dunfermline dropped from 11.4 PM10 in 2019 to 10.5 this year, with nitrogen dioxide at 15.8 in 2019 and down to 12.7 in 2021.

At the time, Mr Bisset said: "We monitor air quality at the busiest roads and junctions, including Admiralty Road, and our findings indicate that the relevant pollutants are within prescribed limits.

"The latest data from 2021 is still being checked and we expect this to be available soon for comparison to air quality objectives."