Glasgow to forge ahead with low emission zone plans

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Glasgow will be the location for the first low emission zone in the country from next year (2018).

The SNP leader confirmed that Glasgow will be the first of four low emission zones within the country, at her speech to the SNP conference in the city yesterday afternoon (10 October).

Glasgow bus air quality

Glasgow city council is to explore plans for a low emission zone which will initially focus on buses

Other cities including Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee are expected to have similar zones in place by 2020 to address air quality.

The proposal to establish four low emission zones were first laid out in the First Minister’s Programme for Government 2017-18, which was published in September and also outlined an ambition to ‘end the need’ for new petrol and diesel vehicles in Scotland by 2032.

In her speech yesterday, the First Minister said: “In that programme, we committed to setting up Low Emissions Zones in our four biggest cities by 2020, to improve the quality of the air that we breathe.

“The first of these will be in place by the end of next year and I am very pleased to announce today that it will be located here in the city of Glasgow.”

Initial plans have already been drawn up by Glasgow city council for how the city’s LEZ could function, with a focus on lowering emissions from buses and subsequent phases then targeting trucks, vans, cars and motorbikes.

Bus emissions

Council documents suggested that on ‘bus-dominated’ streets such as Hope Street, buses contribute up to 80% of recorded NOx emissions and suggested that there is a ‘clear link’ between areas of increased bus traffic and higher air pollution in the city (see airqualitynews.com story).

The report, put to councillors last month, stated: “A LEZ covering Glasgow’s city centre air quality management area is capable of bringing about a significant improvement in air quality. This improvement will be targeted on the streets in Glasgow currently experiencing the highest levels of pollution in the city. The proposals made above will ensure that benefits will be enjoyed throughout the city.

“The initial phase of the LEZ will focus on reducing bus emissions. It is intended that subsequent phases will include trucks, vans, cars and motorbikes in order that all harmful sources of air pollutants are further reduced.”

The announcement has been welcomed by Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, who said: “Glasgow is the obvious choice for Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone. The LEZ has the potential to improve air quality, drive down climate emissions, and make Glasgow city centre a much more pleasant place for people to live, work, and spend time and money in.

“Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone should initially restrict the most polluting buses, vans, and lorries from the city centre, with taxis and cars included at a later date.”