Edinburgh looks to lower emissions

Lung disease charity backs ‘ambitious’ Low Emission Zone plans to tackle air pollution

Monday 13th May 2019

The City of Edinburgh Council has published ‘ambitious’ proposals for the introduction of low emission zones (LEZs) as part of efforts to improve air quality in the city.

The introduction of LEZs in Edinburgh would see the city become the second in Scotland to implement such restrictions. The Council’s transport and environment committee will consider plans for public consultation on the scheme later this week.

The British Lung Foundation says the scheme is “essential” to cleaning up the city’s air and protecting children and young people from the harmful effects of air pollution.

Council committee convener, councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “Tackling air pollution benefits everyone – residents, commuters and visitors - particularly the most vulnerable members of society. Like cities across the UK and globally, we are committed to improving air quality and realising the health benefits this will bring.

“Edinburgh is one of the fastest-growing cities in the UK and it’s clear that we need to take action to build resilience while ensuring a high quality of life for everyone who comes here.

“Our plans for an LEZ, as part of a broader package of measures to improve sustainability and connectivity across the city, will be central to achieving this.”

Development of the LEZ plans has been carried out in conjunction with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Transport Scotland, and is linked to a number of other strategies aiming to ‘enhance placemaking and connectivity in Edinburgh’.

It forms part of a broader city mobility plan and will look to address ‘the significant impact higher emission vehicles have on air pollution.’

The proposals include a city centre boundary for all vehicles and a city-wide boundary for selected vehicles. All polluting vehicles would be affected and entry to the LEZ would incur a penalty, though there would exemptions in some circumstances.

While the implementation is proposed to start by the end of 2020, grace periods have been factored in to allow the vehicle owners time to prepare, with an extended grace period for residents living in LEZ areas.

A poll commissioned by the British Lung Foundation asked 1,001 people across Scotland about LEZs and found two thirds of people in Edinburgh (68%) and Lothian (65%) supported their introduction.

Joseph Carter, head of British Lung Foundation Scotland said: “Air pollution is bad for everyone’s health, but it’s especially dangerous for people living with lung disease and for children whose growing lungs can be permanently damaged by it.

“Edinburgh and Lothian residents clearly have deep concerns about the public health crisis caused by air pollution. These figures show that people are willing to support bold action against the most polluting vehicles.

“A citywide Low Emission Zone is essential to deliver meaningful reductions in air pollution, giving everyone who lives in or visits Edinburgh the chance to enjoy the health benefits of cleaner air.”