Head of Asthma and Lung UK Scotland welcomes the expansion of the LEZ but calls for wider action to tackle toxic air beyond the city centre, including safer streets for walking and cycling
Glasgow City Council’s plans to expand its Low Emission Zone (LEZ) scheme to “protect public health” and “support climate change” mitigation has been given the green light by Scottish ministers.
Jenny Gilruth, Minister for Transport said, “We have a moral responsibility to act”. She added: “Air pollution often disproportionally impacts those with the least in our society. It causes the most damage to the youngest, the oldest and those with pre-existing medical conditions.”
Public health research into air pollution has found there is no safe level for particulate matter.
Phase one of the Glasgow scheme was introduced in 2018 and covered local bus services, now phase two is due to take effect at the start of June 2023 and will extend to most vehicles in the zone, with a few exceptions including motorcycles, mopeds, and blue badge holders. Residents living within the LEZ will have a further year to get their vehicles compliant.
The LEZ will operate 24/7 and a £60 penalty charge will be payable on vehicles entering the zone that do not meet the new stringent emission standards, halved to £30 if paid early. The area it covers is marked by the M8 motorway to the north and west, the River Clyde to the south, and the Saltmarket and High Street area to the east.
Under the scheme petrol car and van engines will need to meet the Euro 4 standard, meaning most registered after 2006 will comply. Diesel cars and vans need to meet the Euro 6 standard, meaning most of these vehicles registered after 2015 will comply.
Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma and Lung UK Scotland, described phase two of the Glasgow scheme as a “game changer for public health”. He said: “Air pollution is an invisible killer that causes new lung conditions such as lung cancer and worsens existing ones, with the potential to trigger life-threatening asthma attacks and flare-ups and can even stunt the growth of children's lungs.
But he added: “We would like to see wider action to tackle toxic air throughout the city and surrounding areas, not just in the city centre. This includes safer streets for walking and cycling, cleaner public transport and pollution-busting schemes outside of all schools."
“We still have stubbornly high levels of harmful air pollution in some parts of the city centre, which is why restricting access to the most polluting vehicles is vital to protect public health.”
Cllr Angus Millar, City Convener for Climate, Glasgow Green Deal, Transport and City Centre Recovery said: "Glasgow has made good progress in tackling air pollution in recent years, in no small part thanks to the success of the early stages of LEZ roll-out which has dramatically improved the emissions standards of buses on our city centre streets.
“But we still have stubbornly high levels of harmful air pollution in some parts of the city centre, which is why restricting access to the most polluting vehicles is vital to protect public health and ensure our city centre is a more appealing and healthier place to be.”
He added that the council will continue to raise awareness of the scheme ahead of enforcement.
The move follows news at the start of the year that London was expanding the area in which its low emissions scheme would operate.
Image credit: Shutterstock