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Low-emission zones formally begin in four Scottish cities

Older vehicles will be banned from city centres (Jane Barlow/PA)
Older vehicles will be banned from city centres (Jane Barlow/PA)

Low-emission zones (LEZs) are formally beginning in four Scottish cities, although enforcement will not begin for at least a year.

Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee are introducing LEZs in order to improve air quality, with many older vehicles banned from city centres.

Grace periods are now in place for the four cities, with enforcement due to begin on different dates.

In Glasgow, the LEZ is already in place for buses and will apply to other vehicles from June 1, 2023, with the grace period for residents extended to June 1, 2024.

In Edinburgh and Aberdeen, enforcement will begin on June 1, 2024.

In Dundee, enforcement begins on May 30, 2024.

Penalties for bringing a non-compliant vehicle into the LEZ will typically be set at £60, halved to £30 if paid early.

Petrol cars and vans will need to have engines at the Euro 4 standard, which generally applies to vehicles registered after 2006.

Diesel-powered cars and vans will need to be at the Euro 6 standard, mainly applying to vehicles registered after 2015.

Blue badge holders are exempt from LEZ requirements.

Jenny Gilruth said it was a ‘significant public health moment’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “The introduction of low emission zones is a truly significant public health moment for Scotland.

“Our air quality is generally good – but for too long air pollution has exceeded legal limits for health in our city centres as a consequence of unrestricted vehicle emissions.

“We have a moral responsibility to act. Air pollution often disproportionally impacts those with the least in our society.

“It causes the most damage to the youngest, the oldest and those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

She continued: “LEZs are the biggest change we’ve ever seen in how vehicles will access our cities – and they need to be, in order to best protect public health and improve air quality.

“With a year to go until the earliest point of enforcement in Glasgow and two years to go until enforcement in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, I encourage everyone to visit www.lowemissionzones.scot to find out more about the schemes, including the Scottish Government funding on offer.”

Kevin Lang, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Edinburgh City Council, said the LEZ being introduced in the capital was “too timid in its ambition and too slow in its implementation”.

He said: “It will leave too many communities with unacceptably low levels of air quality and could even make the situation worse in areas around the city centre zone.

“In the years to come, the council will look back and regret the LEZ did not go further and faster. This has been a wasted opportunity to deliver a positive step change in tackling the poor air quality which causes so many health issues, particularly in children.”

Speaking later on Tuesday, Edinburgh council’s transport convener, Scott Arthur, said that in the coming years people driving into the city centre would see “more and more indications that they’re going to have to change their habits”.

He told the PA news agency: “By two years’ time, it should be very clear to people if they’ve got one of these older, more polluting vehicles, that they face a fine if they cross a line as they come into the city centre.”

He said the council wanted to encourage more cycling and walking but public transport would do the “heavy lifting” as people choose to leave their cars at home.

Mr Arthur said the council’s Spaces for People schemes had been “controversial”, but added: “Towards the end of the last administration we agreed a way forward for the schemes which still exist and I’m absolutely committed to making that work.”