Scotland puts Low Emission Zone plans on ice

Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee will not get Low Emission Zones (LEZs) this year, after the Scottish government put the plans on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The schemes were due to come into force before the end of 2020, but transport secretary Michael Matheson says the plans ‘are no longer practicable’ in the current environment. 

Glasgow’s LEZ came in to force at the start of 2019.

Mr Matheson said: ‘We remain dedicated to introducing Low Emission Zones across Scotland’s four biggest cities to improve air quality and protect public health. Local authorities share this ambition and Scotland’s first LEZ in Glasgow has been in place since 2018.

‘LEZ planning within local authorities will continue, the development of regulations is ongoing and funding to support businesses and individuals prepare for LEZs remains unchanged.’

‘Given the recent uptake in active travel and air quality levels we are going to take the opportunity to review how Low Emission Zones can be designed and how our cities might witness a green recovery transformation in tandem with the Covid-19 recovery plans.

‘We must be bold in our actions to reset the system to meet our climate change ambitions, reduce inequalities, improve our health and wellbeing and deliver sustainable economic growth.’

Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Gavin Thompson called on the Scottish Government to put a limit on the delays.

He said: ‘Of course we’re seeing many changes to councils’ priorities, and many projects have been rightly delayed until we are through this crisis. However, Low Emission Zones were already well underway, and Covid-19 has only highlighted our urgent need to reduce pollution.

‘The Scottish Government acknowledges that the huge increase in cycling, alongside the temporary road reallocation measures gives us an opportunity to reimagine our cities for the better. Restricting the most polluting vehicles from built-up areas, with Low Emission Zones, has to be central to this plan.

Clean Air Zones in Leeds and Birmingham have already been delayed due to the crisis and Greater Manchester announced they will be postponing the consultation for their Clean Air Plan indefinitely.

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