Revealed: Radical plans to ban polluting cars from the whole of Edinburgh

Radical plans to ban the most polluting vehicles from the whole of Edinburgh are being considered by city council leaders.

Monday, 6th May 2019, 2:34 pm
Updated Monday, 6th May 2019, 2:40 pm

They are looking at extending the planned “low emission zone” (LEZ) in the city centre to the entire capital.

Only cars, buses and other vehicles with the cleanest engines would be permitted, to improve air quality.

However, only around half of the vehicles in Edinburgh are thought to meet these pollution standards and would face being banned in the city.

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The move would see all but the greenest vehicles banned

Details of the initial zone are due to be unveiled by the council on Friday, including the area of the city centre it will cover, types of vehicles to be restricted and grace periods.

Ministers have ordered the zone to be established by the end of next year, along with ones in Aberdeen and Dundee.

They will follow Glasgow city centre becoming Scotland’s first LEZ in January, with 20 per cent of buses required to meet the emission standards, as a first step.

The proportion will steadily increase to cover all buses – and other vehicles – by the end of 2022.

Edinburgh City Council transport convener Lesley Macinnes said extending the LEZ would produce significant benefits. Picture Ian Georgeson

The zones in all four cities will only permit the cleanest diesel vehicles. These have Euro 6 engines, which were introduced five years ago.

Petrol cars will require Euro 4 engines, introduced in 2005.

Edinburgh City Council transport convener Lesley Macinnes said extending the LEZ city-wide would produce significant benefits.

She told Scotland on Sunday: “This is not a whim, but based on evidence. It would result in a better quality of life for the city – a healthier city with less pollution.

“It would deliver a much better city for children to grow up in, older people to grow old in, and for people to visit and commute sustainably in.

“The last thing I want to do is set the hares running about the impact on people, as we are still shaping it and there will be an emphasis on consultation.”

But she added: “If you have an older car, we will be asking you not to come into the city, or pay an enormous fine.

“We know this is going to demand a lot of change from people, but let’s look at the benefits. The minute you link it to health outcomes, people realise the benefits.”

Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth Scotland welcomed the move.

Air pollution campaigner Gavin Thomson said: “Air pollution is responsible for over 2,500 early deaths every year in Scotland and has been linked with heart attacks, strokes, and cancers.

“Vulnerable groups such as the young, the elderly and those already suffering ill health are at particular risk.

“If LEZs are too small, traffic will just be redirected to drive round it. Toxic air pollution will just be moved from city centres to residential streets.

“That’s why we need to see ambition from Edinburgh council – a large zone, covering the whole city, which includes all vehicle types.”

But motoring group IAM RoadSmart said he was unconvinced.

Scotland-based policy and research director Neil Greig said: “An LEZ across the whole city seems a little draconian as it will inevitably cover areas that do not have an air quality problem.

“The council should bring forward clear evidence that every location in the whole city is suffering before they put forward sanctions and control.

“Restrictions on older cars will hit the poorest residents who often live in the peripheral estates.”