Edinburgh Low Emission Zone: Public asked if cars should be included

CAPITAL residents are to be asked whether polluting cars should be included in a citywide restriction.

Friday, 17th May 2019, 12:18 pm
Drivers have been warned they will have five years to scrap out of date cars to avoid hefty fines under draft proposals for a two-tier Low Emission Zone. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Edinburgh City Council’s transport and environment committee agreed to include whether the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) should include cars across the entire city – but rejected an appeal from Conservatives to investigate whether there is public support for a zone to operate only at certain times during the day.

The council’s draft proposals include polluting lorries, buses and taxis restricted form entering the city boundary – while cars that don’t meet emission standards would face hefty fines to enter a city centre zone.

Officer Will Garrett said: “Over the past 10 years, there’s no doubt that air quality levels have improved.

“Approximately three-quarters of all traffic in the city today is cars. The cars are delivering about one-third of the emissions – commercial vehicles and buses produce two-thirds. One-quarter of vehicles (buses and commercial vehicles) are delivering around two-thirds of the emissions.”

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Friends of the Earth Scotland had earlier warned that the LEZ plans will not do enough to improve air quality.

Air pollution campaigner Gavin Thomson said: “The plans as published don’t address the scale of the problems.

“The Old Town will be served well by these plans. Further out, residential areas will experience higher traffic.”

Conservative transport and environment spokesperson, Cllr Nick Cook, called for the public to be asked whether any LEZ should operate 24 hours of for limited hours throughout the day.

He added: “It’s not specifying any preference for hours.

“I fully expect some people will come back and say I think it should operate form A to B. I do think there’s an issue with consistency here.”

But transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, rejected his plea.

She said: “If we leave a window overnight for freight to come in and pollute our streets, it adds an extra nuisance level for residents.”

Green transport spokesperson, Cllr Chas Booth, saw his plea for the public to be asked about widening the proposals for cars to be included in the citywide zone and the boundary lines of the city centre area, approved by councillors.

He said: “I think it’s highly unlikely the Greens will support these proposals unless they change. I want to see the proposals strengthened significantly but I do think we need to ask the general public.”

Campaigners welcomed the decision to widen the scope of public consultation on the LEZ plans.

Mr Thomson added: “The inclusion of these important questions in the Low Emission Zone consultation is an opportunity for the people to have their say. Cars must be included in the city-wide zone. That this hasn’t been considered until now is a huge oversight.”