Rethink of policy

Low emission zones on hold and poised for review

Michael Matheson

Michael Mathson: ‘We must be bold’ ((pic: Terry Murden)

Plans to introduce low emission zones in four cities are on hold because of the coronavirus, and are likely to be revamped in light of likely changes to how people will travel.

LEZs were due to be implemented in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow from this year.

But Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the impact of Covid-19 has forced a change of priorities across government and local authorities.

“Similar to other initiatives across public sector, we have come to the view that introducing low emission zones across our four biggest cities by the end of 2020 is no longer practicable,” he said, adding that a temporary pause would allow time to re-think the plan.

Ministers and advisers will be mindful of how the virus will affect commuting and shopping, and the use of public transport. Air quality has improved since the lockdown, particularly in key arterial city routes, such as St John’s Road in Edinburgh and Hope Street in Glasgow.

“The Scottish Government is fully committed to tackling air pollution in the quickest time possible,” said Mr Matheson.

We must be bold in our actions to reset the system

– Michael Matheson, Transport Secretary

“We remain dedicated to introducing Low Emission Zones across Scotland’s four biggest cities to improve air quality and protect public health. Local authorities share this ambition and Scotland’s first LEZ in Glasgow has been in place since 2018.

“LEZ planning within local authorities will continue, the development of regulations is ongoing and funding to support businesses and individuals prepare for LEZs remains unchanged.

“Given the recent uptake in active travel and air quality levels we are going to take the opportunity to review how Low Emission Zones can be designed and how our cities might witness a green recovery transformation in tandem with the COVID-19 recovery plans.

“We must be bold in our actions to reset the system to meet our climate change ambitions, reduce inequalities, improve our health and wellbeing and deliver sustainable economic growth.”

The decision to delay was taken by the Low Emission Zone Leadership Group, which includes Mr Matheson, Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and representatives from the four local authorities, Public Health Scotland & SEPA.

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