Saturday, July 2, 2022
NewsFinal steps to be taken towards Edinburgh's low emission zone

Final steps to be taken towards Edinburgh’s low emission zone

THE FINAL steps towards introducing a low emission zone (LEZ) in Scotland’s Capital this May will be taken, if agreed by councillors this week.

A report to the Transport and Environment Committee on Thursday recommends proceeding with the scheme approved in January, and to hand over the Final Submission to Scottish Ministers for consideration.

The recommendations follow a month-long Statutory Notice Period in February, during which 26 objections and one note of support were received.

After analysis, officers advised that there is no justification for changes to the scheme, though have affirmed that work will continue to ensure any potential impacts from the scheme are reduced.

Queue of traffic in city.
Edinburgh’s LEZ aims to improve air quality in the cintry centre. Photo by Nabeel Syed on Unsplash

Edinburgh’s city centre LEZ would apply to all motor vehicles except motorcycles and mopeds, with a two-year grace period and allowing certain exemptions, including for blue badge holders and emergency vehicles.

Once the LEZ is in place, vehicles must meet a minimum emissions standard to enter the zone freely, and those that don’t will be considered non-compliant and subject to penalties.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “Being able to breathe clean air is a right we all deserve, and by introducing a Low Emission Zone in the city centre we want to tackle air pollution in one of the most densely-populated parts of Edinburgh.

“Our officers have carried out a great deal of planning, modelling and analysis, in line with national frameworks, to develop our proposals.

“They have been able to draw on this evidence in response to objections received during the Statutory Notice Period.

“I’m confident that the proposed scheme will deliver significant benefits to quality of life in our city.”

Councillor Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice Convener, said: “Significant work carried out to assess this scheme’s impact on carbon emissions, as well as the proposed boundaries and grace period, demonstrates that these proposals are appropriate for the city.

“The LEZ, alongside a range of ambitious projects to improve air quality, will encourage more sustainable transport and support active travel, and is key to achieving cleaner air for everyone.”

Objections to the scheme include the size and location of the boundary, the impacts of traffic displacement and the potential financial challenges of complying.

Amongst the reasoning for proceeding with the current scheme is the significant modelling and analysis carried out under the National Modelling Framework and Options Appraisal work undertaken in accordance with the National Low Emission Framework.

This research demonstrates the rationale for the proposed boundary and the short-lived impact on traffic at its periphery.

A Network Management Strategy is also being developed to counter any traffic displacement.

In response to concerns around the financial challenge of complying with the LEZ, significant support provided by the Scottish Government was highlighted.

This included funding to mitigate impacts for those most in need, in the context of Covid recovery.

Throughout the development of an LEZ for Edinburgh, consultation, engagement and scientific evidence, following national frameworks, has highlighted both why we need cleaner air and how to bring this about for Edinburgh’s requirements, while supporting the city’s Covid recovery.

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