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Air quality modelling to support health and land-use planning research in Fife

Air quality modelling to support health and land-use planning research in Fife

Ricardo's high-resolution air quality modelling tool, RapidAir®, plays key role in helping improve air quality in the Kingdom of Fife.

"Ricardo has provided detailed air quality modelling support to Fife Council over the past decade, notably using RapidAir to facilitate the council’s objective of improving air quality across the Kingdom through the implementation of cost-effective measures." Kenny Bisset, Lead Officer – Land and Air Quality Team, Fife Council


Fife Council is the third largest council area in Scotland. As a thriving and diverse authority, it has, over the years, identified hotspots of air pollution that exceed its air quality objectives. This led the council to proactively seek cost-effective measures to improve air quality across the Kingdom of Fife, and protect the health of residents and visitors.

For the last decade, Ricardo has provided strategic air quality expertise including measurements, modelling, training and policy support to complement the proactive and dynamic aspirations of Fife Council with respect to environmental protection. Due to the technical experience and proven track record of our Air Quality Team, we were selected by the council to implement an authority-wide air quality model for the Fife region.


In response to Fife Council’s air quality aspirations, our experts used RapidAir to develop a detailed, high-resolution, air quality model of Fife – an area of 1,325 km2. The model that was developed estimated concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter with a diameter of 10 microns or less (PM10) at 3-metre resolution across the whole of Fife. This included all urban areas and designated Air Quality Management Areas, which are areas the council has identified as exceeding the UK air quality limit values.

The predicted concentrations were verified against independent data collected by the council for each populated area to ensure a robust model was produced. The average concentrations for each postcode were calculated from the modelled gridded concentrations, the outputs of which were provided to the council for display on Google EarthTM. The developed model was tailored to the specific requirements of the council and provided officials with the tools to fulfil the authority’s Local Air Quality Management requirements and evaluate future development proposals.

The RapidAir model provided Fife Council with:

  • Detailed analyses of concentrations of NO2 and PM10 at postcode level across the Kingdom to support health and policy communications.
  • A ‘whole Kingdom’ air pollution map that was integrated into the corporate GIS system. This was then used when determining planning applications by showing where air quality was likely to be a sensitivity.
  • Dynamic reporting that summarised the meteorological and measurement-based inputs to the modelling, and headline results from the dispersion modelling.


Fife’s RapidAir model outputs have been used by the council to develop cost-effective and feasible air quality action plans to improve local air quality, examples of which have been cited by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as examples of good practice. Ricardo’s air quality modelling experience has also been used to evaluate the potential impact of development proposals, outside and within the council’s Air Quality Management Areas.

Ricardo’s expertise in air quality management and insight into mobile and point-source emissions, combined with the innovative capability of RapidAir, enabled highly spatially resolved concentration estimates to be produced in short model times. This has supported Fife Council in becoming an exemplar local authority in air quality management. The unique knowledge of Ricardo’s experts enabled Fife Council to identify the most appropriate and feasible measures to bring about significant improvements in air quality and the attainment of the air quality objectives for NO2. Despite significant improvements in air quality that have been observed across Fife in recent years, the council remains committed to targeting the continuous improvement of ambient air quality across the Kingdom. The capabilities of RapidAir and Ricardo’s air quality experts continue to support Fife Council in these ambitions.

UPDATE: Fife Council lifts special measures as air quality in two Fife towns improves

To find out more about Ricardo's RapidAir dispersion model, visit www.rapidair.co.uk


Fife Council

Start and end dates

01/2017 - 12/2020


3 years


Scotland, Fife

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