Scotland’s major cities enforce Low Emission Zones to combat air pollution

Posted: 10 June 2024 | | No comments yet

From June 2024, Scotland’s four largest cities have begun fully enforcing Low Emission Zones, significantly reducing the presence of high-polluting vehicles to improve air quality and public health.

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Credit: Scottish government

From 1 June 2024, Transport Scotland has announced that the country’s four largest cities have been fully enforcing Low Emission Zones (LEZs) to improve air quality and public health by restricting the most polluting vehicles. The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Fiona Hyslop, updated the Scottish Parliament on the initiative, emphasising the unanimous scientific consensus that there is no safe level of air pollution. She highlighted research from the University of Dundee linking high pollution levels to increased respiratory admissions in children.

The Scottish government has supported the transition since 2019, assisting those in need with the costs of compliant vehicles and promoting sustainable transport. LEZ exemptions are available for Blue Badge holders, with over 15,000 registrations.  

Hyslop acknowledged the challenges for owners of older, high-polluting vehicles, who must either upgrade to cleaner vehicles, switch to sustainable transport, or alter their routes to avoid penalties. However, she stressed that the inconvenience is minor compared to the severe health impacts of air pollution. She described the LEZs as a necessary response to a neglected public health issue.

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Councillor Heather Anderson of Dundee City Council said:  “The public health benefits of the Low Emission Zone are clear. The measures taken in introducing this scheme benefit children, older people, those with existing underlying health problems, and everyone who breathes in the cleaner air.”

Glasgow City Council’s Convener for Climate and Transport, Angus Millar, said: “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.”

Overall, Scotland’s major cities are unified in their efforts to combat air pollution, aiming for cleaner air and healthier urban environments for all residents.