Edinburgh Low Emission Zone: 'Reasonable response' to health issue 'ignored for far too long' says Fiona Hyslop

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Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop has defended Low Emission Zones as a “reasonable response” to a public health issues which has been “ignored for far too long”.

And she said the “inconvenience” which the zones represented for drivers whose vehicles failed to meet the emission standards “paled” in comparison to the life-changing effects of air pollution.

The Edinburgh LEZ came into force on June 1.The Edinburgh LEZ came into force on June 1.
The Edinburgh LEZ came into force on June 1.

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She told MSPs: “This government will never shy away from taking the tough action that is required to protect the health of the most vulnerable and tackling the biggest threat our planet faces.”

Ms Hyslop was giving the Scottish Parliament an update on Low Emission Zones (LEZs) following the launch of the zones in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen last weekend. Glasgow has been operating its LEZ for a year already.

Ms Hyslop said: “The work behind the scenes in undertaking the detailed assessment and design of the LEZs has been underway for a long time. In addition, extensive marketing and awareness raising campaigns undertaken since 2019 have helped drivers and businesses around the country, by allowing ample time to prepare for the LEZs.

“We acknowledge the move to LEZs, while not affecting the vast majority of vehicles on the road, will mean that owners of high polluting older vehicles will have to take action to avoid receiving Penalty Charge Notices.

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“Whether that means switching to a cleaner vehicle (noting that petrol cars newer than 2006 are generally all compliant) or to more sustainable transport options, or varying their route to avoid the relatively small city centre areas - the effect is that only the owners of the dirtiest most polluting vehicles are inconvenienced. 

“The inconvenience to drivers of these vehicles pales in comparison to the life changing impacts of harmful air pollution. I would like to think all members of this chamber see the LEZs for what they are – a reasonable and proportionate response to a very real public health issue that has gone on largely ignored for far too long.”

Edinburgh transport convener Scott Arthur said that along with the other three places, the Capital was sending a clear message that Scotland’s major cities were united in pursuing “a better future for all”.

He said: “I’m proud that we’ve reached this important milestone in our journey to become a healthier, greener, and more sustainable city. For the past two years we’ve run a positive information campaign to give people time to get ready for the LEZ, and to make sure they avoid penalties once enforcement begins.

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“We have ambitious plans to achieve net zero, accommodate sustainable growth, cut congestion, and improve air quality, amongst other commitments to create a safer and more people-friendly city; and the LEZ is a key component of these.

“Public attitudes towards LEZs are improving across Scotland, with a recent poll indicating that 60 per cent of respondents were in favour of the zones, with just 21 per cent opposed. This is clear evidence that people are seeing the many benefits of LEZs, and how they link in with our wider aims to make our city cleaner, greener and healthier for everyone.

“And as Scotland’s capital city, we have a duty to lead on these key climate issues which will define our country for generations to come.”

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