Edinburgh Low Emission Zone: Signs, cameras and road changes to be installed soon ahead of next year's start
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Work will start soon on installing signs and cameras for Edinburgh’s Low Emission Zone, as a new study shows falling support for the clean air initiative.
The city council said signs will start going up in October around the boundary of the zone, which covers a 1.2 square mile area of the city centre. And automatic number plate recognition cameras are due to be installed later this year and early next year, ahead of enforcement beginning on June 1, 2024. Vehicles which do not meet strict emission standards will be banned from the area and face fines of £60 – doubling each time for repeat offences – if they ignore the restrictions.
And in early 2024 there will also be changes made to some street layouts and signals on the edge of the LEZ boundary amid concerns about congestion, pollution and rat-running as motorists with non-compliant vehicles are forced to seek alternative routes.
Independent research found a majority of drivers in Edinburgh continue to back the LEZ, but support has fallen significantly from 66 per cent in June last year to 57 per cent in June this year while opposition has increased from 15 per cent to 24 per cent. Women were more in favour of the LEZ than men and 18-34 year-olds were less likely to be in favour than older age groups.
Latest data from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) shows overall compliance in Edinburgh with the emissions standards required by the LEZ has increased from 48 per cent to 78 per cent over the last six years. Local buses are 97 per cent compliant, with Lothian Buses being 100 per cent compliant, while petrol cars are 95 per cent compliant and lorries 86 per cent, but diesel cars are only 50 per cent complaint.
The LEZ, which stretches from Queen Street to Melville Drive and from Palmerston Place to Abbeyhill, was approved in 2022 but councillors agreed a two-year grace period before enforcement begins. Some street layouts and signals close to the boundary will be altered in early 2024 in a bid to prevent congestion and improve safety. The changes include:
– making Morrison Street two-way to all traffic from the Morrison Link-Morrison Street junction to the Dewar Place-Morrison Street junction
– adding a righthand turn from Morrison Link to Morrison Street eastbound and changing the signal
– changing signals and improving pedestrian crossing at the junction of Morrison Street, Gardners’ Cresent and Dewar Place – including wider footways, removing guard railing, adding cycle parking and planters
– creating continuous pavements at St David’s Place and St David’s Terrace on Morrison Street
– traffic will not be able to turn right from Morrison Street westbound to Gardners’ Crescent. This will give more time for ‘green man’ so that pedestrians going east to west have priority
– allowing traffic to turn right from Home Street to Brougham Street at Tollcross junction
– a new right turn filter from the Pleasance to Holyrood Road.
Transport and environment convener Scott Arthur said: “It may seem some way off, but we are beginning to approach the start of enforcement of the LEZ, and we want to make sure drivers are prepared. Air pollution harms both our physical and mental health, so by restricting the most polluting vehicles in the LEZ we will create a healthier place for everyone, reducing inequalities and making the city centre a more welcoming place.
“I’m pleased that compliance with our emissions standards continues to increase, driven by the upcoming LEZ restrictions and support funds, and that support remains high. Lothian Buses are now LEZ-ready, and the council fleet will be soon. There’s still work to be done though to ensure everyone else who enters the zone is compliant. As we begin preparations for enforcement, I would encourage all drivers to check if their vehicle is compliant through the online vehicle checker tool, and find out more about the support funds available.”