Glasgow will be the first city to have a Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) put in place under the Scottish government’s programme. Work is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.
The move was announced by Nicola Sturgeon in October as part of the SNP Conference in Glasgow, in which she also affirmed that the SNP had “committed to setting up Low Emissions Zones in our four biggest cities by 2020, to improve the quality of the air that we breathe”.
The Scottish Government will enter into a joint effort with Glasgow City Council to prepare the design of the LEZ. A Leadership Group and Glasgow Delivery Group have already been put in place.
Under the LEZ rules, only vehicles that meet the European emissions standards will be permitted inside the city centre.
Buses will be the first to undergo scrutiny, due to the fact that they produce the most harmful nitrogen dioxide in the centre. Only those with the cleanest diesel engines will be allowed to run. This has prompted backlash from some operators, who have expressed both anger at being apparently singled out as the first targets, and concern that preparations for the LEZ will prove too expensive.
However, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has sought to dissuade these concerns by bringing news of extra funds, stating: “Low emission buses are at the heart of improving air quality and the bus sector has a key role to play. I’m proud that the Scottish Green Bus fund has already provided more than £16 million to support the introduction of hundreds of low emission buses. Today, we have again demonstrated our commitment to the bus industry through the announcement that we are providing a further £1.6 million immediately to a Bus Retrofit Programme for Scotland.”
With regard to other vehicle types, he added that “our position is that local authorities should be ambitious, and that all vehicles including private cars should be included in a LEZ in a phased manner.”
As the initiative proceeds, the Scottish Government will be guided by the principles included in Transport Scotland’s consultation, Building Scotland’s Low Emission Zones. The consultation is a means for people to express their opinion on the situation, and will be available until 28 November 2017.
Views can also be put across on Twitter with the hashtag #lezconsultation.