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Blue Badge waiver from LEZs questioned

Air Quality

06 March 2020

The Scottish Government’s plan to exempt Blue Badge holders from low emission zones should be time-limited, the City of Edinburgh Council has said.

The Government proposed the exemption in its consultation on regulations and guidance for LEZs that closed last month (LTT 21 Feb). It will not be straightforward to administer because Blue Badge permits are assigned to disabled drivers and not to specific vehicles. Drivers may have to register the vehicle they plan to use in the LEZ via a smartphone app. 

Edinburgh’s response to the Government’s consultation says: “The council is concerned about the huge scope for misuse relating to Blue Badge exemptions, and the effectiveness of a smartphone app that is currently under development to manage [the] exemptions.

“The complexity of administering a potential system is of concern both for the back office requirements, and potentially the burden it will place on Blue Badge holders.

“If an exemption is provided for Blue Badge holders, then it should be time-limited.”

A council spokeswoman told LTT: “All vehicles have a role to play in helping Edinburgh improve air quality and all operators should be working towards ensuring their vehicle meets emission standards.”

Edinburgh also says the Government’s proposed tiered approach to LEZ penalty charges is too complex. The Government’s proposal is that three contraventions committed in the same LEZ within a 28 day period would see the offender moving up one tier in the penalty tier system. The system has eight tiers and the penalty charge for offences increases in each tier.

“The tiered approach is completely different from that used in other decriminalised enforcement regimes (parking and bus lanes), so will require bespoke IT systems, which will have to be specifically tailored/developed to meet the tiered bands,” says Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh suggests at most a two-tiered system, with a charge for the first tier of at least £100.

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