Four new low-emission zones (LEZ) have been formally introduced across Scotland in a bid to gradually phase out the most polluting vehicles on city streets.
The zones – in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee – will initially have a grace period where drivers wont be fined, but eventually polluting vehicles will be liable for £60 (US$75) charges for non-compliance.
In Glasgow, the LEZ already applies to buses, but enforcement for other polluting vehicle types will commence on 1 June 2023, and 1 June 2024 for residents within the zone.
Edinburgh and Aberdeen will also start enforcing rules on 1 June 2024, while Dundee will start on 30 May 2024.
“I’m pleased that Glasgow’s LEZ plans have secured the backing of Scottish Ministers,” said Councillor Angus Millar, Glasgow City Council’s Convener for Climate, Green Deal, Transport and City Centre Recovery.
“Glasgow has made good progress in tackling air pollution in recent years, in no small part thanks to the success of the early stages of the LEZ roll-out which has dramatically improved the emissions standards of buses on our city centre streets.
“But we still have stubbornly high levels of harmful air pollution in some parts of the city centre, which is why restricting access to the most polluting vehicles is vital to protect public health and ensure our city centre is a more appealing and healthier place to be.”
The minimum emission standards for vehicles permitted within the four LEZs are Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans (generally vehicles registered from January 2006) and Euro 6 for diesel cars and vans (generally vehicles registered from September 2015).
A number of vehicles are exempt from LEZ requirements, including those driven by blue badge holders. Funding is available to help people and businesses that need it most to comply with the LEZs.
Penalties will typically be set at £60, halved to £30 if paid early. That will double for each subsequent offence within a 90-day period.
Scotland’s Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth said: “The introduction of Low Emission Zones is a truly significant public health moment for Scotland.
“Our air quality is generally good – but for too long air pollution has exceeded legal limits for health in our city centres as a consequence of unrestricted vehicle emissions.”
Birmingham in England has reported a significant fall in the percentage of the most polluting vehicles entering the city centre since its Clean Air Zone (CAZ) was established – from 18.7 per cent on 1 June 2021 to 9.2 per cent in April 2022.
The city says this has contributed to a 13 percent overall reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels.
Nearly one in ten (nine percent) of all vehicles that enter the CAZ are vans – of which 79 per cent meet the emissions standard, but this rate of compliance is below average compared to other commercial vehicles such as buses (98 percent) and heavy goods vehicles (95 percent).
To help boost compliance further, SMEs based in the West Midlands who use low emission vehicles in their fleets may be able to apply for grants of up to £4,000 per vehicle to help fund upgrades.
In addition, the council has increased the Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) grant available to Birmingham-licenced private hire and Hackney carriage drivers. Both groups can now apply for a grant of up to £10,000 to cover the operating expenses associated with running a ULEV. Previously, the grant available was up to £2,500 or £5,000 respectively.
“This month marks the first anniversary of Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone, said Cllr Liz Clements, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Transport.
“I am pleased to say we have made good progress towards our goal of improving air quality in the city centre but we cannot rest on our laurels, so we are offering some additional support to help accelerate our journey to becoming a clean air city and to help improve the lives of everyone who lives and works in the city.”
Image: Glasgow City Council
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