Old cars to be banned from Ed­in­burgh’s city cen­tre – but driv­ers get grace pe­riod

The Scotsman - - NEWS DIGEST - By DAVID BOL [email protected]­me­dia.co.uk

Mo­torists have been warned they have five years to scrap out- of- date cars to avoid fac­ing “sub­stan­tial” fines to drive in Ed­in­burgh’s city cen­tre un­der draft pro­pos­als that have been la­bel led“half-hearted” by cam­paign­ers.

In­dus­try lead­ers have warned bus ser­vices could be re­duced or re­moved as a re­sult of the plans.

The city coun­cil has pub­lished its draft pro­pos­als to roll- out a two- tier low emis­sion zone ( LEZ) by the end of 2020, which will be sub­ject of a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Mo­torists will re­ceive time to pre­pare for the over­haul, with car driv­ers given un­til 2024 to clean up their ve­hi­cles.

Cars, buses and lor­ries that fail to meet pol­lu­tion stan­dards will be banned from the city cen­tre. But a sep­a­rate zone for the wider city will see cars ex­empt from the rules, mean­ing that pol­lu­tion- emit­ting ve­hi­cles will still be able to sit in queues at the no­to­ri­ous St John’s Road junc­tion and other hot- spots across the wider Scot­tish cap­i­tal.

The LEZ for the city cen­tre does not in­clude Queen Street, Hay­mar­ket and Toll­cross. Buses, coaches and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles will have un­til the end of 2021 to meet the city cen­tre stan­dards, while cars will have un­til the end of 2024 – and the car grace pe­riod could be ex­tended to 2025.

If ap­proved, the city­wide LEZ would re­quire buses, coaches and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles to meet the pol­lu­tion stan­dards by the end of 2023 and cars would be ex­cluded.

Trans­port and en­vi­ron­ment con­vener, Coun­cil­lor Les­ley Macinnes, said: “It’s ab­so­lutely clear that there’s an ap­petite for change around this. Peo­ple recog­nise the is­sue. This is an am­bi­tious low emis­sion zone – there’s no ques­tion about that.

“We want to make sure that t he way i n which we do i t doesn’t neg­a­tively im­pact on those busi­nesses. We have to recog­nise what are the key sources of the prob­lems. We are hit­ting those cat­e­gories that makes the big­gest dif­fer­ence fastest.”

For petrol en­gines, ve­hi­cles will have to meet Euro 4 stan­dards, re­quired for ve­hi­cles sold af­ter Jan­uary 2006. Diesel cars will have to meet Euro 6 stan­dards, re­quired for diesel cars sold af­ter Septem­ber 2015. Heavy diesel ve­hi­cles will need to meet Euro 6 stan­dards – gen­er­ally those reg­is­tered with the DVLA af­ter 2014.

No de­tails of the fines for driv­ers who break the rules have been re­vealed, but there will be “dif­fer­ent lev­els of penalty charge de­pend­ing on, for ex­am­ple, the class of ve­hi­cle or whether there are re­peated con­tra­ven­tions”. Cllr Macinnes con­firmed the penal­ties would be “sub­stan­tial enough to change be­hav­iour”.

The coach and bus in­dus­try has warned the pro­pos­als “may re­sult in un­in­tended con­se­quences” for pub­lic trans­port net­works.

Paul White, deputy di­rec­tor of the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Pas­sen­ger Trans­port UK-Scot­land, said :“Ed­in­burgh in­tends to tar­get the bus sec­tor first de­spite ac­knowl­edg­ing that cars and LGVS are the largest NOX pol­luters. CPT would urge Ed­in­burgh Coun­cil to re­mem­ber that bus is an en­abler of bet­ter air qual­ity.

“This could have con se­quences for bus users across Loth­ian, many of whom rely on the bus for ac­cess to work, health and ed­u­ca­tion, or for ac­ces­si­ble travel and so­cial in­clu­sion.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign­ers have warned t he draft plans as they stand would dis­place air pol­lu­tion and “fails to pro­tect the health of our most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens”.

Friends of the Earth Scot­land’ s air pol­lu­tion cam­paigner Gavin Thom­son said: “Th­ese plans from City of Ed­in­burgh Coun­cil could have been a great step for­ward for air qual­ity in the city and the case for th­ese im­prove­ments is clear.

“It is shock­ing that no re­stric­tions will be ap­plied to cars in the next five years, no mat­ter how pol­lut­ing th­ese ve­hi­cles maybe. Many res­i­dents in Ed­in­burgh will be sur­prised that the coun­cil is cre­at­ing a zone to tackle air pol­lu­tion, but that it doesn’t ac­tu­ally ap­ply to cars.”

He added :“Th­ese two-tier plans mean tourists and shop­pers will be breath­ing clean air in the city cen­tre but, fur­ther out, res­i­den­tial ar­eas will ex­pe­ri­ence higher traf­fic and air pol­lu­tion as ve­hi­cles drive round the zone. Th­ese half­hearted plans fail to tackle per­sis­tent pol­lu­tion hot- spots in the city.”

Re­search from the Bri­tish Lung Foun­da­tion found 68 per cent of Ed­in­burgh res­i­dents sup­port the LEZ con­cept.

Joseph Carter, head of Bri­tish Lung Foun­da­tion Scot­land, said: “Ed­in­burgh 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 LEZ is es­sen­tial to de­liver mean­ing­ful re­duc­tions in air pol­lu­tion.”

“Many res­i­dents ... will be sur­prised that the coun­cil is cre­at­ing a zone to tackle air pol­lu­tion, but that it doesn’t ac­tu­ally ap­ply to cars” GAVIN THOM­SON Friends of the Earth Scot­land

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