Edinburgh’s Low Emission Zone ‘won’t make any difference’ to most polluted street

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FURIOUS residents have hit out at council plans to exclude one of Scotland’s most polluted streets from the city’s core Low Emission Zone.

People in Corstorphine say they cannot understand why the council’s proposals - expected to be approved by councillors today - do not involve any restrictions on cars in St John’s Road, which has repeatedly been highlighted as a pollution hotspot.

St John's Road in Edinburgh. Pic: SWNS

St John's Road in Edinburgh. Pic: SWNS

The council is proposing a two-tier LEZ with cars, buses and lorries which fail to meet strict emission standards banned from the city centre while cars will be exempt from similar restrictions on vehicles in the wider city.

Steve Kerr, chair of Corstorphine Community Council, said the plan completely failed to deal with the area’s pollution problem. “We will be part of an LEZ, but it doesn’t apply to cars so it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference.”

And Chris Young, of Corstorphine Climate Action, said people felt frustrated. “St John’s Road is so regularly one of the most polluted streets in Scotland and yet it seems to get no focus from Edinburgh council.

“Cars account for most of the traffic in our area and if we were to reduce that by 25-30 per cent the effect could be quite dramatic.”

He said the problem of pollution on St John’s Road had been a campaign issue for at least two decades. “It got to the point where people had almost given up because it looked as if nothing would ever change - and the LEZ plans are almost a confirmation of that.

“We are absolutely furious about it. We have just been brushed aside again. This would have been the perfect opportunity to do something bold and they have just not done that.”

And Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine accused the council of letting down local residents.

She said: “I regularly have people coming into my office with asthma and breathing difficulties who put it down to the pollution. I can feel it when I’m in my office. I thought they were going to do something about it. If this goes ahead they will simply be paying lip service to the idea of cleaning up the air we breathe.”

Transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes said measures such as Lothian Buses using its cleanest buses on the route along st John’s Road were already reducing emissions.

And she said: “Our citywide LEZ proposals cover St John’s Road, which would benefit from measures to reduce the impact of buses and commercial vehicles on air quality, while our city centre boundary intends to tackle the worst concentrations of air pollution.

“If approved today though, these proposals will be opened up to public consultation, and I would welcome any comments from the community on all aspects of our plans, including the geographical boundaries.”