Edinburgh's Low Emission Zone: 'Revised plan in place by new year' says deputy council leader Cammy Day

Revised plans for Edinburgh's Low Emission Zone should be in place by the start of the new year, deputy council leader Cammy Day has said.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 4:55 am

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The SNP-Labour coalition's proposals for a city-centre ban on the most polluting vehicles were rejected by the transport committee last week and officials were sent back to make changes to the boundaries for the scheme and the plan to allow motorists a two-year grace period before enforcement begins.

The Tories predicted the delay could mean a final plan for the LEZ was postponed until after the council elections next May.

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Map showing the boundary of the proposed LEZ

But now Cllr Day has said he is confident the administration can get the scheme back on track, with suitable adjustments, much sooner than that.

He said: “It will go ahead. There will be a rethink and we’ll bring it back to committee with an update plan and we’ll have to do a bit more work behind the scenes to get another party on board with us and I’m very confident we will.

“It will be a delay but there won’t be a cancellation.”

The LEZ scheme would ban diesel cars registered before September 2015 and petrol cars registered before January 2006, as well as HGVs and buses that do not meet the Euro VI emission requirements, from a 1.2 square mile area of the city centre. It was due to be introduced in May 2022 with enforcement beginning in June 2024.

The LEZ was due to be introduced in May 2022 Picture: Lisa Ferguson

At last week’s committee meeting the Tories voted tactically with the Greens and Lib Dems to defeat the coalition motion to approve the scheme as drawn up.

Each party had different objections to the proposals – the Greens wanted more emphasis on reducing greenhouse gases, not just NO2; the Lib Dems wanted to revive an earlier plan to have a city-wide ban on non-compliant buses and HGVs; and the Tories claimed the scheme would be expensive and achieve little because air quality was getting better anyway.

But the when the Lib Dem and Tory amendments had been rejected, the votes of all the opposition parties in favour of the Green amendment was enough to force the rethink.

And the following day, the Lib Dems warned the administration not to attempt to bring back the same proposals and try to "ram" them through at the next meeting of the transport committee, claiming such a move would undermine the reputation of the council.

It is understood talks about a revised plan are likely to focus on adjusting the boundary of the zone and shortening the two-year grace period.

Councillor Day said: “We will be having some in depth discussions with the other political parties. I think there is a will among all the political parties to have an LEZ and help contribute to the city's 2030 net zero ambition.

“Obviously the current proposal didn't suit everybody so we have to have a rethink, but I'm confident that at least by the beginning of the new year we will have our plans in place to proceed with an LEZ.”

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