Edinburgh could ‘ban vehicles’ in low emission zone

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RADICAL plans aimed at making Edinburgh Scotland’s greenest city have been unveiled - including a high impact ban on some city road users.

Other dramatic options being looked at include the setting up of so-called “freight hubs” outside the city for lorries, banning regular vehicles that fail to meet emission targets and a review of how deliveries are made to homes and businesses.

The proposals - put forward as part of the forthcoming Low Emissions Zones required by the Scottish Government - would be the most comprehensive changes the city has seen in decades.

Edinburgh will become the next Scottish city to bring in an LEZ.

READ MORE: Edinburgh set for Scotland’s second low emission zone
It comes after Glasgow, where councillors were lambasted by green groups for a “lack of ambition” for exempting a range of fossil fuel burning ‘problem’ vehicles.

Leaders argue they are necessary as the council looks to put citizen health and the environment top of its agenda.

There is likely to be a knock-on effect on all sorts of other aspects of city life - how goods are delivered into shops and hotels in the city centre, how people get their parcels from Amazon

Lesley Macinnes

Cllr Lesley Macinnes, the council’s transport and environment convener, believes the LEZ would have a “a massively good impact”.

They are part of an action plan to tackle poor air quality and are being rolled in in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.

The council here is yet to determine what the LEZ will look like.

But options touted at this stage include setting up “freight hubs” outside the city for lorries, banning regular vehicles that fail to meet emission standards or a targeted focus on the city centre.

There could also be a city wide ban on some vehicles.

Cllr Macinnes said: “Glasgow’s is already underway and we are aiming to be the next one on the list.

“We haven’t defined how it’s going to look, which vehicle categories might be impacted, what impact that will have on daily life - that will emerge as we go through this process.

“There is likely to be a knock-on effect on all sorts of other aspects of city life - how goods are delivered into shops and hotels in the city centre, how people get their parcels from Amazon - there’s likely to be some kind of effect.

“At this point, I would be very cautious about saying what that might be because we don’t know.”

READ MORE: Edinburgh should ban lorries and vans say campaigners
In a report to be discussed by the council’s Transport and Environment Committee on Thursday, the authority points out that poor air quality “disproportionately affects vulnerable people” and that evidence shows a wider range of health impacts including poor birth outcomes, diabetes and neurological problems.

Cllr Macinnes added: “There are 200 premature deaths a year in Edinburgh alone.

“A lot of ordinary people on the street don’t actually think that much about air quality. There is need to build context around this for people to understand why we are looking at it.”

Glasgow City Council has agreed to introduce its LEZ focussed on buses at the end of 2018, with a second phase including trucks, vans, cars, taxis and motorbikes.

Edinburgh has six Air Quality Management Areas - five for traffic related problems in the city centre, West End, Corstorphine, Inverleith Row, Great Junction Street and Newbridge.

The council believes the LEZ would need to run alongside “continued increased use of public transport and active travel”.

The report adds: “Geography-based options under consideration include an Edinburgh-wide LEZ, a focus on the city centre, and LEZs that target emissions ‘hotspots’ across the city.

“Vehicle type approaches consider the emissions contributions of various types of vehicles - cars, buses, light and heavy goods vehicles and taxis. Based on emissions standards, restrictions could be applied to ensure that only the cleanest vehicles operate in certain areas.”

“The park and ride / public transport may replace trips previously taken by vehicles which do not meet the emission standards. Similarly, freight logistics hubs outside the city could be supported in order to incentivise lower-emission vehicles servicing Edinburgh.”

The LEZ is likely to be enforced by installing a fleet of licence-plate recognition cameras and the final designs are set to be released in early 2019.