Plans to implement low emission zones across Scotland’s four major cities have been put on hold due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The schemes were due to be implemented in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee later this year but Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the Scottish Government had come to the view that “introducing low emission zones across our four biggest cities by the end of 2020 is no longer practicable”.
Instead, the Low Emission Zone Leadership Group, which includes Matheson as well as Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and representatives from the four local authorities, Public Health Scotland & SEPA, said the pause would provide an opportunity to re-evaluate the kind of transport systems we want to see return to our cities after Covid-19.
Matheson said: “We remain dedicated to introducing Low Emission Zones across Scotland’s four biggest cities to improve air quality and protect public health. Local authorities share this ambition and Scotland’s first LEZ in Glasgow has been in place since 2018. LEZ planning within local authorities will continue, the development of regulations is ongoing and funding to support businesses and individuals prepare for LEZs remains unchanged.
“Given the recent uptake in active travel and air quality levels we are going to take the opportunity to review how Low Emission Zones can be designed and how our cities might witness a green recovery transformation in tandem with the Covid-19 recovery plans. We must be bold in our actions to reset the system to meet our climate change ambitions, reduce inequalities, improve our health and wellbeing and deliver sustainable economic growth.”
Already, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, which went live in April 2019, has been suspended due to the outbreak.
Clean Air Zones were also meant to launch in England this year but the arrival of the first zones in Leeds, Birmingham and Bath has already been pushed back to 2021, as the councils express concerns over the impact of the schemes on both individuals and businesses.
Meanwhile Coventry has extended the consultation on its clean air plans and Greater Manchester’s consultation has been put on hold due to the pandemic, again to enable more in-depth evaluation of plans.