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Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone starts to take shape

Glasgow bus
Glasgow bus

Glasgow plans to have Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in place as 2018 draws to a close.

The new zone, covering the city centre, is due to come into effect at 23:59 on 31 December 2018.

It will mark the start of a journey which will ultimately lead to all vehicles entering the zone being fully compliant by 31 December 2022.

Details were discussed in an update report to the Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction City Policy Committee today (Tuesday 20 March).

The report outlines the work being undertaken by the council and partners including Transport Scotland, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and SEPA to address the various technical and legal matters associated with establishing a LEZ in Glasgow.

Proposals to introduce a LEZ in Glasgow by 2018 were agreed by the council’s City Administration Committee in September last year.

Since then, the council has engaged with relevant stakeholders, major bus operators including First and SPT to outline potential scope of the LEZ and gain an insight on how Scottish Government funding for retrofitting of the bus fleet will be used by them to deliver a compliant bus service/fleet.

There is substantial funding available to support the bus industry with LEZ works.  This is money which is available to bus operators to allow them to retrofit their older buses.

Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, said: “We are making real progress on our plans to have Scotland’s first LEZ in place by the end of the year. Glasgow’s LEZ will be the first of its kind in Scotland and has been modelled as being capable of making significant reductions in levels of air pollution in the city centre.

“It’s recognised that the introduction of a LEZ needs to be proportionate and managed in such a way that ambition and practicality can be balanced. What we’ve seen and heard today are strong views expressed on both sides of the debate – some people who think we are going too far and some who feel we should go further and faster. Our job is to ensure the low emission zone is introduced at a robust yet realistic pace that will bring about the air quality improvements we need without having a detrimental impact on transport or Glasgow’s economy and businesses.

“While we continue to work with the bus industry to improve services – services which are vital to the lives of Glaswegians – Transport Scotland has made it clear that substantial grant funding, as well as loans, will be made available to support the bus industry and to protect passengers.

“That is why the initial phase of the LEZ will address local buses through Traffic Regulation Conditions (TRC’s) set by the Traffic Commissioner.  Buses will be expected to meet Euro VI emission standard by December 2022. All other vehicles will also have to be compliant by that date, and we will be engaging widely with residents and businesses to ensure that everyone is aware of and prepared for the LEZ.

“Glasgow is forging a national path towards cleaner air – air that we will all benefit from. Poor air quality is a significant public health concern and a major social justice issue for Glasgow.

“Cleaner buses going through the city centre LEZ will also be travelling elsewhere and throughout our city’s neighbourhoods and this is a really positive step forward in how we, as a city and as a country, go about creating healthy, liveable streets.”

The timescales set out in the committee report are subject to the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland agreeing to impose a Traffic Regulation Condition following a regulatory impact assessment.

It is anticipated this process will take at least six months.

The LEZ update report is available here

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