Two years' notice for Scottish Low Emission Zones will hit city centre businesses

Friday 16 January 2015

Responding to today’s publication of the draft Low Emission Strategy for Scotland by the Scottish Government, the Freight Transport Association expressed strong concern about the unusually short timescales proposed for implementing Low Emission Zones (LEZs).

Commenting on the publication, FTA’s Head of Urban Logistics Policy, Christopher Snelling, said:

“Air pollution in British cities has improved significantly in the last decades, partly thanks to the improvements in van and HGV technology that mean they now have a fraction of the emissions of the past. We are tightly regulated through the EU’s ‘Euro’ engine standards and these will continue to deliver the air quality improvements that are required of us, even if no further action is taken.”

FTA also stated that LEZs have an appeal to campaigners and politicians as they sound dramatic, but often the best practical solutions are less exciting measures, such as traffic re-sequencing in key streets.

Mr Snelling continued:

“The biggest concern in these proposals is the potential timescale for implementation. The document correctly notes that it is vital to the potential success of an LEZ that affected vehicle owners and operators are given sufficient notice to ensure compliance before the LEZ is established.”

However, the document then states that the notice period should be a maximum of two years – compared to the total seven years’ notice that will have passed by the time London’s Euro VI LEZ comes into force. So far, nowhere else in Europe has implemented a Euro VI LEZ, let alone at such short timescales.

The association outlined that if a Scottish council was to take up this document’s suggestion this year and announced a Euro VI/6 LEZ (as recommended in the Strategy) it would start in 2017. That would mean any lorry older than three years would be excluded, whilst for some van classes those more than one year old would be banned. FTA also noted that this measure would see two year old diesel cars being excluded.

Snelling concluded:

“Two years’ notice might work if what is planned is a lower standard bus-only LEZ – as implemented successfully in Brighton recently. However if we are to avoid significant disruption to local economies in town and city centres, commercial vehicles operators, and we’d assume private motorists, need notice periods akin to those being given in London.”

FTA will pursue this point in dialogue with the Scottish Government and in response to the consultation.

Notes for editors

LEZs are where older vehicles are prohibited from entering a city centre or entire conurbation. The main example in the UK currently is the Greater London-wide London Low Emission Zone which covers buses and HGVs and is due to be supplemented by a central London Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2020 which will cover cars as well. The Strategy sets out a framework for local councils on how to consider LEZs as a measure, and what shape they should take if they do.
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