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Glasgow low emission zone plans will 'condemn city to illegal air for years to come', warn campaigners

Image credit: PA

Glasgow low emission zone plans will 'condemn city to illegal air for years to come', warn campaigners

Environmental groups have slammed the ambition of new plans for a low emission zone in Glasgow, warning that the proposals will “condemn Glasgow to illegal air for years to come”.

Under the plans, published today and due to be debated next week, the LEZ will only cover 20 per cent of buses and will not include cameras to catch offenders.

Glasgow, which has repeatedly broken legal air quality limits, was chosen as the first Scottish city to introduce a low emission zone after the plans were announced in the Programme for Government last September.

The city was selected to trial an LEZ – due to be introduced by the end of 2018 – with LEZs then expected to be introduced to every major city by 2020 and to all Air Quality Management Areas by 2023.

But proposals from Glasgow City Council have faced criticism from Friends of the Earth Scotland after the local authority failed to include a timetable for when it plans to include vans, lorries, cars and taxis in the zone.

Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna, said: “The people of Glasgow were promised a Low Emission Zone, but these proposals will create a ‘No Ambition Zone’ that does almost nothing to speed up air quality improvements so desperately needed in the city.”

She added: “The LEZ plans would require a mere 20 per cent of buses to have the cleanest standards in the city centre by next year, yet Transport Scotland research shows that 15 per cent of buses already were at this standard in 2017. The plans are a gift to bus companies at the expense of the hundreds of people in Glasgow who are dying early every year and suffering ill health due to toxic fumes.

“The bitter irony is that the Scottish Government has already allocated more than £10m for developing LEZs and at least £10m in loans for companies to buy cleaner buses, which is enough to retrofit or replace every older bus in Glasgow by the end of 2018. The Council must be bolder and reform its proposals to require that 100 per cent of buses travelling through Glasgow City Centre are Euro 6 compliant by the end of the year.”

Meanwhile the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland called for vehicle standards to be the uniform in all of Scotland’s cities.

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “FSB believes that firms and residents must be given time to adapt – that’s why a phased approach is so important. Further, many businesses that operate in Glasgow city centre will also do work in Scotland’s other cities. Therefore Scotland-wide standards for low emission zones must be established.

“In a similar way to households, purchasing new vehicles is a huge investment for smaller businesses that they’ll look to recoup over a number of years. Glasgow City Council must shift gear when it comes to communicating these changes, and the Scottish Government should offer help for cash-strapped smaller firms.”

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