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Low Emission Zone enforcement begins in Edinburgh

Mark Moran
03 June 2024
Launching enforcement of the Edinburgh LEZ
A LEZ sign
A LEZ sign

 

A scheme that restricts the most polluting vehicles entering the city centre of Edinburgh is now being enforced.  

A Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) was introduced in Edinburgh on 31 May 2022, along with LEZs in Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Dundee, restricting the most polluting vehicles.

In Edinburgh, a two-year grace period was put in place, meaning no penalty charges were issued during this time.

In line with Scottish Government regulations, since 00:01 on 1 June the council has been able to issue penalty charge notice (PCN) fines for contraventions within the LEZ.

The LEZ ensures that all vehicles driving within Edinburgh’s LEZ must meet the less-polluting emission standards or face a penalty charge.

It is anticipated that the LEZ will reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen dioxide from vehicles, with air quality improvements expected to extend beyond the scheme’s boundary.

LEZ restrictions will apply to motor vehicles, except motorcycles and mopeds. Vehicles must meet the minimum emissions standards to drive within the zone, though national exemptions apply including for blue badge holders and emergency vehicles.

Changes have been made to roads to allow drivers with vehicles that do not meet the standards to avoid them entering the LEZ. These include junctions in the Old Town (junction of Pleasance with Holyrood Road), and Tollcross, as well as changes to Morrison Street.

A map of the LEZ is available on the council’s website.

Individuals can check whether their vehicle is compliant on the LEZ Scotland website.

The Scottish Government is providing £5m across Scotland to reopen the LEZ Support Fund for 2024-25 where residents and businesses can apply for support to ease the transition through retrofitting, disposal and other grants.

Over the past three years people in the Edinburgh region benefited from £2.4m of grant support to prepare for the LEZ.

The LEZ forms part of the city’s wider ambitions under the 2030 Climate Strategy and other schemes such as the City Mobility Plan and the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision.

Edinburgh's transport and environment convener Cllr Scott Arthur said: “I’m proud that we’ve reached this important milestone in our journey to become a healthier, greener, and more sustainable city. For the past two years we’ve run a positive information campaign to give people time to get ready for the LEZ, and to make sure they avoid penalties once enforcement begins.

“We have ambitious plans to achieve net zero, accommodate sustainable growth, cut congestion, and improve air quality, amongst other commitments to create a safer and more people-friendly city; and the LEZ is a key component of these.

“Public attitudes towards LEZs are improving across Scotland, with a recent poll indicating that 60% of respondents were in favour of the zones, with just 21% opposed. This is clear evidence that people are seeing the many benefits of LEZs, and how they link in with our wider aims to make our city cleaner, greener and healthier for everyone.

“Alongside Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Dundee we’re sending a clear message that our major cities are united in pursuing a better future for all. And as Scotland’s capital city, we have a duty to lead on these key climate issues which will define our country for generations to come.”

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for transport Fiona Hyslop said: “I’m pleased that Edinburgh is protecting public health and improving air quality through their Low Emission Zone.  

“This bold action mirrors the decisive measures we’ve seen in towns and cities right across Europe. There are now over 320 similar schemes in effect which respond to the latest medical understanding concerning the dangerous effects of air pollution from vehicle emissions.

“To help those that need it most, the Scottish Government has provided over £16m to help people and businesses to comply with LEZs. Support remains available and I would encourage anyone who wants to know if their vehicle is compliant, or to find out more about funding, to visit www.lowemissionzones.scot.”

Reactions

Flora Ogilvie, consultant in Public Health at NHS Lothian, said: “Reducing air pollution has clear long and short-term health benefits for everyone but is especially important for vulnerable groups. NHS Lothian welcomes the introduction of the Low Emission Zone and wider actions to encourage walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport use.

“We encourage our staff, patients and visitors to travel sustainably wherever possible, for the benefit of their own health and that of the wider community. We have been working to get our fleet of vehicles ready and make sure our staff are aware of the enforcement date.”

Jonathan Roden, policy and public affairs manager at the British Heart Foundation Scotland, said: “Air pollution is a public health emergency. Our research has shown that air pollutants can have a damaging impact on people’s heart and circulatory health. Each year up to 700 deaths from heart and circulatory disease in Scotland are attributable to particulate matter pollution. That’s why BHF Scotland welcomes the implementation of Edinburgh’s LEZ, which will help to improve the capital’s air quality and help to protect people's health.”

Gareth Brown, chair of Healthy Air Scotland, and policy and public affairs officer at Asthma + Lung UK Scotland, said:  “With 1 in 5 Scots developing a lung condition like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in their lifetime, for them, air pollution can trigger life-threatening asthma attacks and flare-ups. Children are more susceptible to air pollution as their lungs are still growing, and they also breathe faster than adults. As they grow, toxic air can stunt the growth of their lungs, making them less resilient into adulthood and placing them at greater risk of lung disease in the future.

“Public health focussed policies like LEZs are seen as the most effective tool, but we would like to see policies that go further, helping to clear up pollution hotspots throughout the country, not just in our four main cities. It is vitally important that we protect the lungs and health of our communities, no one should be forced to breathe in toxic air.”

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