Edinburgh's Low Emission Zone: Community leaders 'frustrated' that one of Scotland's worst-polluted streets is left out.

Community leaders from the area with one of Scotland’s worst-polluted streets say they are “frustrated” that they are still being left out of Edinburgh’s proposed Low Emission Zone.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 4:55 am

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Corstorphine community council had hoped a revision of the LEZ scheme for the city would reinstate an earlier idea of a city-wide zone banning buses and HGVs which fail to meet strict emission standards, alongside the city-centre zone where the ban also includes non-compliant private cars.

But the Capital’s SNP-Labour administration will present the LEZ plans unchanged to Thursday’s transport committee, despite the defeat they suffered when opposition parties united on the issue last year.

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St John's Road, Corstorphine is regularly named as one of Scotland's worst-polluted streets. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor.

It means St John’s Road in Corstoprhine – regularly one of the top three streets in Scotland for emissions – will not be included in the LEZ.

Corstorphine community council chair Steve Kerr confirmed they would be making an official objection to the scheme in its present form.

He said: “Two council officers came to a meeting of the Edinburgh Association of Community Councils and they conceded the point that at the junctions and areas around the LEZ emissions will rise.

If you represent an area that has one of the worst pollution records in Scotland, not just Edinburgh, and then you're told you'll be excluded from an LEZ and in fact your area will possibly see a rise in emissions, why would I support it at all? It makes no sense.

Steve Kerr says the failure to include Corstorphine in the LEZ is a public health issue. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor.

“And this is set against a background of extensive building in the west of the city which will result in increased traffic.”

He said the council should have reviewed the boundaries of the scheme and reintroduced the second, city-wide zone which would have included Corstorphine.

He said transport convener Lesley Macinnes and vice-convener Karen Doran had gone out to meet the community council some time ago about the LEZ.

They were told that [second zone] was what we expected, but it has fallen on deaf ears,” said Mr Kerr.

“It’s a public heath issue. There are people living in and around St John's Road who never had problems with asthma but who now do have problems with asthma.”

In October, the Tory and Lib Dem members of the transport committee backed a Green amendment on the LEZ to force a delay and review of the plans.

But the report for this week's meeting says officials concluded changes to the proposals could not be justified.

Mr Kerr said: “There is a sense of frustration. I'm not opposed to the principle of an LEZ. I’m not saying we shouldn't have an LEZ, I’m saying we should have an LEZ that's worth having.”

Under the plan, all motorised vehicles – apart from motorcycles and mopeds and a limited list of exempt categories – which fail to meet emissions standards will be banned from a 1.2 square mile area of the city centre.

It will affect an estimated 20,000 vehicles in and around the Capital – diesel cars registered before September 2015 and petrol cars registered before January 2006 – as well as heavy goods vehicles and buses that do not meet the Euro VI emission requirements.

The council hopes to bring in the ban in May this year, though a two-year grace period would mean it is not enforced until June 2024.

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