The three Air Quality Management Areas were established to cover specific locations within Broxburn (2011), Linlithgow (2016) and Newton (2016).
The increased use of electric/hybrid vehicles and less polluting modern cars are believed to be having significant influence in the improvements.
There are specific air quality standards or objectives which are set out in legislation. Air Quality Management Areas are put in place when these air quality objectives are not being met. They are intended to be temporary arrangements to ensure measures are taken to improve air quality.
Some locations may be more prone to higher levels of pollution due to different sources of pollution, and other factors at the location which allow the pollution to build up or not disperse quickly. For example, in town locations with regular levels of heavy traffic, and buildings close to either side of the road there is a chance of more pollution building up.
West Lothian Council has a duty to review areas of the district which might be potential concerns for air quality. Air quality monitoring data is publicly available in real time and historically for various sites in West Lothian.
A review of the three air quality management areas has now been completed and supported by detailed assessments carried out by external consultants.
Councils have a statutory duty to report an annual progress report to the Scottish Government in regard to air quality standards. The council has today (Tuesday 21 March) agreed to formally seek the Scottish Government's approval to revoke/remove the Air Quality Management Area in Broxburn, and that process will continue following approval by Council Executive.
At this stage only Broxburn is able to proceed to a position whereby the Air Quality Management Area is removed, but it is expected that once final action plans are developed for Newton and Linlithgow, that the process to remove all three Air Quality Management Areas in West Lothian will be able to proceed.
Craig Smith, the council's Environmental Health & Trading Standards Manager said: "Although there is no one reason for the notable decline in pollutants, the increased use of electric/hybrid vehicles and less polluting modern cars are believed to be having significant influence in the improvements.
"This could also be considered alongside changes in driving behaviour, move from diesel (less diesel HGV and buses) and less vehicle use generally. There was also a notable change in air quality during periods of limited social interaction and movement during the pandemic, however, it's clear that vehicle pollution is much lower generally."
He added: "Air quality management areas are not intended to be in place for any longer than is necessary. As air quality improves, and air quality objectives are being met, there is an expectation that local authorities will take steps to revoke these controlled areas.
"As trends in air quality have been noted in previous annual reports, the Scottish Government are recommending the council completes a review with a mind to revoke air quality management areas in West Lothian."