Edinburgh's Low Emission Zone: Defeated administration warned not to try to 'ram through' same proposals again

Council leaders have been warned not to try to reverse their defeat over Edinburgh’s Low Emission Zone plan by bringing back the same proposals and trying to “ram” them through at the next meeting of the transport committee.

By Ian Swanson
Thursday, 28th October 2021, 12:30 pm

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The SNP-Labour administration suffered an embarrassing setback when the scheme to ban the most-polluting vehicles from a 1.2 square mile area of the city centre was voted down in favour of a Green amendment calling for changes to the boundary and the two-year grace period before the ban is enforced.

There has been no comment from the administration on what they plan to do, but one source suggested the intention was possibly to make some minor alterations at the edges but resubmit essentially the same proposals at the next transport committee in November.

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Map showing the boundaries of the proposed LEZ

Tuesday’s upset came when the three Tory councillors on the committee joined with the two Greens and the one Lib Dem to outvote the five administration councillors and pass the Green amendment.

Committee members privately said convener Lesley Macinnes had made a mistake in choosing the Green amendment rather than the Tory one to put up against the administration’s motion to approve the LEZ. They argued the Greens and Lib Dem would have abstained rather than back the Tory amendment so defeat would have been avoided.

And it was claimed Councillor Macinnes also missed an opportunity to rescue the situation by not referring the issue to the full council for a final decision.

Lib Dem councillor Kevin Lang said he hoped the administration would now heed the call for changes and not come back with the same scheme to try again.

The LEZ was due to be enforced from June 2024 Picture: Lisa Ferguson

He said: “What we had was three political parties very different political parties voting together to say we don’t think you’ve quite got this right.

"And the responsible thing for the convener to do is to pause, reflect and take on board the concerns which have been expressed.

"The will of the committee was clear – they wanted the scheme to be changed and I think that is what the committee would expect to come back in a revised scheme from what was presented on Tuesday.

"If the administration simply try to ram through the same scheme that was rejected I think that would seriously undermine the reputation of the council.”

Once a scheme has been approved by the council there is a 28-day period for formal objections to be made, which could lead to an inquiry and possibly a public hearing.

The plan was for the LEZ to be introduced in May 2022 and enforcement to begin in June 2024, but if there is to be a serious revision of the scheme as a result of Tuesday’s vote it could delay the timetable.

Tory group leader Iain Whyte suggested it could even put council approval of a final scheme back until after the local elections next May.

Green councillor Claire Miller said she had held talks with the administration on Wednesday and had made some progress but was still waiting for answers.

A council spokeswoman said discussions among officials and with senior councillors were continuing.

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