Glasgow city council has outlined proposals for the introduction of Scotland’s first low emission zone, aimed at tackling air pollution in the city centre.
The proposals include an initial focus on securing cleaner bus services within the city, in an area currently covered by the city’s air quality management area, from the end of 2018.
As part of this, all bus services operating within the low emission zone will be required to meet at least the Euro VI emission standard, within four years of the introduction of the LEZ.
Funding is expected to be secured through central government for the retrofit of many of the existing buses, in order to comply with the requirements.
In a report ahead of the discussion of the proposals tomorrow, the council notes that it would be a “significant operational and logistical challenge” to have approximately 1,000 non-compliant buses currently operating in Glasgow brought up to such a standard for the end of 2018.
Currently between 10% and 12% of the city’s buses are thought to meet the standard, Glasgow city council claims, with compliance expected to reach 20% by December 2018, and 100% by 2022.
The report adds: “The subsequent phasing of the LEZ will apply to all vehicle types, unless exempted. Transport Scotland is currently identifying the agreed exemptions to LEZ compliance in order to ensure that there is national consistency in this matter and that no Scottish city suffers a competitive disadvantage in relation to the others.
“In addition, there may be a need for a sunset period for local residents and businesses, located within the LEZ area. This group will be given a longer period of time for compliance as unlike other groups who may avoid entry to the LEZ, this option is not available to those based within the zone.”
Phase 2, which is likely to include taxis and private cars, will be consulted on with stakeholders over the next 12 months in order that the process is proportionate and shall be supported by an economic appraisal, the council adds.
Glasgow’s LEZ will be the first of four such zones to be introduced in Scotland by the end of the decade. Other cities including Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee are expected to have similar zones in place by 2020 to address air quality.
The proposal to establish four low emission zones were first laid out in the First Minister’s Programme for Government 2017-18, which was published in September and also outlined an ambition to ‘end the need’ for new petrol and diesel vehicles in Scotland by 2032.
Glasgow’s plan has been met with scepticism from local environmental campaigners, including Friends of the Earth Scotland, who have described the plan as ‘unambitious’.
In a statement, the organisation said: “Buses are a vital part of the solution to air pollution but these proposals are a surrender to bus companies seeking to undermine progress at the expense of the Glasgow residents choking on toxic traffic fumes. The tragedy is that there is already enough public money available to pay for nearly all buses to be upgraded and retrofitted within a year – even if the bus companies didn’t pay a penny.”
The charity is calling for members of the public to email the council’s Environment Committee, which will consider the proposals at tomorrow’s meeting, to call for the plans to be strengthened.
Glasgow city council – Low Emission Zone proposal