Measures to encourage commuters to leave their cars away from pollution hotspots must be made before planned low emission zones trigger vehicle curbs in Scottish cities, MSPs urged today.
Improvements such as more park-and-ride sites and boosts for cycling and walking were called for by Holyrood’s rural economy and connectivity committee.
Scotland’s first low emission zone was introduced in Glasgow in January, with buses the first to be restricted based on engine emissions.
However, by 2022, all vehicles will have to have the cleanest available engines to be allowed into the city centre.
Similar zones are also due to be established in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee by next year, although the timetable for vehicle restrictions has yet to be decided.
Edinburgh City Council is due to consider draft plans in May.
Today’s report stated: “When considering low emission zones, the committee noted there is an urgent need to address the environmental and public health issues caused by poor air quality in Scotland’s towns and cities.
“However, for LEZs to be a success, the committee calls for improvements in public transport provision and park and ride facilities, and for the Scottish Government to set a national minimum technical emissions standard for vehicles entering a LEZ.
It also called for “improved active travel [walking and cycling] opportunities to incentivise people to make a choice not to take vehicles into the zone.”
It added that drivers motorists and businesses “may face a financial burden in having to upgrade or replace vehicles to meet emissions standards, and this could be a particular challenge to those on lower incomes.”
The committee said it was told they were more likely to have older, more polluting vehicles.
The report, responding to various measures in the Scottish Government’s Transport (Scotland) Bill, also called for greater moves towards passengers being able to travel with a single ticket covering all operators and types of transport. It also called for an exemption for delivery vehicles from the proposed pavement parking ban to be removed.
The committee also urged parking across dropped kerbs at crossings, used by people with wheelchairs and pushchairs, to be banned.