Edinburgh low-emission zone ‘lacklustre’ says campaigners

Edinburgh’s proposed low-emission zone (LEZ) is ‘lacklustre’ and will do ‘very little’ to protect the public’s health from air pollution, Friends of the Earth Scotland has said.

A consultation on the LEZ ends this Sunday (July 21), and the campaign group is urging members of the public to have their say to strengthen the plans.

City of Edinburgh Council’s draft LEZ proposes a two-tier zone to address air pollution in the city.

A small LEZ covering the Old Town will restrict buses and HGVs from the end of 2021, with the oldest, most-polluting cars restricted from the end of 2024.

A larger zone, covering the whole city, will be in place from the end of 2023 and will only apply to buses, coaches, and HGVs.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s air pollution campaigner, Gavin Thomson said: ‘This draft pollution plan from Edinburgh Council risks becoming a wasted opportunity that does next to nothing to bring down toxic traffic fumes in the city.

‘This lacklustre zone has been designed to achieve the bare legal minimum on diesel pollution, an objective which should have been met back in 2010.

‘The council has opted for the slowest possible lead-in times, meaning that it will be 6 years before any restrictions are applied to cars. It looks like they have prioritised not upsetting car owners above improving tackling dirty air to the benefit of all Edinburgh’s people.’

Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee are all preparing to follow Glasgow and implement LEZs by 2020 as part of the Scottish government’s Low Emissions Zone programme.

Responding to Friends of the Earth, Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, said: ‘We’ve already had a fantastic, positive response to our consultation on these proposals.’

‘Proposed grace periods will allow drivers to adapt to vital changes,’

‘We are also, of course, focusing on a wider range of highly ambitious projects alongside the development of an LEZ.

‘These are designed to improve active travel facilities and public transport access, including the City Centre Transformation and the City Mobility Plan. This is part of our wider commitment to create modal shift amongst the public, making active travel and trips by public transport easy and attractive as an alternative to the car.

‘The LEZ is designed to tackle established air pollution problems, not to achieve traffic reduction.’

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