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18/05/2018

Low-down on Edinburgh’s low emission zone strategy

Words: Roger Milne
Congestion in Edinburgh / iStock-652650614

Councillors in the capital have begun to grapple with the detail involved in establishing a low emission zone (LEZ) regime in Edinburgh.

A report considered by the council's Transport and Environment committee this week highlights that a combinations of LEZ options are being explored, based on geographic limits and vehicle types. Air quality and transport modelling will be used to test what impact the potential approaches might have for air quality and how they could work together.

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 where six so-called air-quality management areas (AQMAs) have already been identified.

Vehicle-type approaches would involve the consideration of 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. In some areas this might mean a ban on buses or a ban on cars.

The report notes that Edinburgh’s geography with its sea and city bypass border “provides a natural cordon around the majority of the city’s road network. This offers Edinburgh a unique opportunity to influence the way trips are made into the area”.

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

Alongside its work on a LEZ blueprint the council is reviewing its city transport strategy and undertaking its Central Edinburgh Transformation project.

“Together, the three projects will set a strategic direction for transport and placemaking in Edinburgh,” stresses the report.

FoE Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna commented: “We want to see an LEZ that restricts the most polluting buses, vans, and lorries from the outset, followed by cars shortly after, and covers a wide area of the city. The zone must be coupled with continued improvements to our public transport, walking, and cycling networks, so that drivers are encouraged not to drive unless they really need to.”

The report can be found on the City of Edinburgh Council website (pdf).

Image credit | iStock

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