Edinburgh’s coalition council has agreed to officially look into setting up low emission zones, which could see vehicles receive bans or fines for not meeting strict city exhaust limits.
Edinburgh city council is considering introducing low emission zones (LEZs) in parts of the Scottish capital, which would see vehicles that do not meet strict exhaust limits facing fines or bans.
The Labour/Scottish National Party council had pledged to investigate the possibility of LEZs after the local elections in May 2012 as part of their coalition agreement.
But this was taken a step further on Friday (23 November) when the council’s Transport and Environment Committee agreed to officially assess the possibility of LEZs in a report scheduled for after summer 2013.
The agreement came after recommendations in the committee’s Air Quality Progress Report 2012, which was launched at the meeting.
This report assessed air quality monitoring in the Scottish capital during 2011 and called for action to be taken to cut emissions in Edinburgh.
The report found that although pollution levels in Edinburgh had improved considerably, they were far too high in many areas and the city was still far from meeting many 2015 EU air quality targets.
As a result, new pollution monitoring sites are to be set up in addition to the three current air quality management areas in Edinburgh city centre, St John’s Road in Corstorphine and Great Junction Street in Leith.
The latest monitoring results from these sites found that nitrogen dioxide levels broke the limits in all three sites and there are now plans to widen these monitoring areas.
Edinburgh city council will hope to follow the lead of London, where an LEZ covering most of the UK capital was introduced by Transport for London in 2008. Further, tighter emissions standards have since coming into force in January 2012.
As well as considering LEZs, the council is also looking at other ways to improve air quality, such as improving traffic control technology and linking it with new pollution sensors in order to reduce emissions.
The Environment and Transport Committee’s Air Quality Progress Report 2012 states the following: “A Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is a defined area in which only vehicles of a specified emission standard can enter freely. This can be further limited to specified types of vehicles. Vehicles that do not meet that standard are either excluded or are required to pay a financial penalty if they enter the zone. A LEZ is usually introduced as part of a wider low emission strategy, which will include other measures, such as green travel plans, park and ride schemes, cycling and walking strategies etc.â€?
The report is available in full from the Edinburgh city council website, or by clicking here.