Glasgow aims to beat Edinburgh in improving air quality

Hope Street in Glasgow.
Hope Street in Glasgow.
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Glasgow has insisted that it will beat Edinburgh in the 
race to establish Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone (LEZ), which will ban the 
most polluting vehicles from parts of the city centre in 
an attempt to improve air quality.

Glasgow City Council said it wanted to press ahead with a pilot project as soon as possible, amid evidence that polluted air was becoming a “significant public health concern” affecting the most vulnerable people.

The move could result in lorries, vans and buses which do not meet emission standards being fined for driving within a designated area in the city centre.

Ahead of the council election earlier this month, the SNP and Greens both pledged to create an LEZ in Glasgow’s Merchant City area, although this could be extended.

Between them the two parties now hold a majority of the seats on the council, after Labour was toppled from power in the city for the first time in almost 40 years.

“We will establish Scotland’s first Low Emission Zones, reduce congestion and work to remove the most polluting diesel engines from our streets,” said councillor Anna Richardson, the council’s convener for sustainability and carbon reduction.

“Poor air quality is a significant public health concern, but also a major social 
justice issue for Glasgow.

“Pollution affects some of the most vulnerable people in our city; including the old, the sick and those experiencing poverty.

“There is a wealth of evidence to show that cities that prioritise healthy, liveable streets benefit not only from better health outcomes, but from more resilient economies and reduced inequality. That’s the goal.”

The Scottish Government has said it will help to finance one pilot project by the end of next year, but Glasgow is facing competition from 
Edinburgh in the race for funding.

Last week councillors in Edinburgh passed a motion in favour of creating an LEZ, resolving that the city should “take the lead” on the issue.

The environmental race between Scotland’s two largest cities was welcomed by green campaign group Friends of the Earth Scotland, which predicted that Glasgow would win.