Plans to tackle levels of air pollution in our city centre by widening the scope of Glasgow's Low Emission Zone to include all vehicles from 1 June 2023, made further progress today at our Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Committee.
In addition to further consideration of the final Phase 2 scheme design, councillors also noted an Objections Report arising from the publication of scheme details last December. The report addresses objections by theme and outlines the mitigation and funding available to those most affected, particularly the taxi sector and those on low incomes.
Whilst all objections have been carefully considered, the pressing need to address the negative health impacts arising from air pollution, combined with the practical support that has been made available to those most affected, means that no further changes to Glasgow's LEZ, including its implementation timetable are anticipated.
The emission standards that apply to LEZs in Scotland are such that by the time of enforcement next June, a relatively small proportion of vehicles will be directly affected. These vehicles however disproportionately impact upon emissions and the resulting levels of harmful air pollution.
Practical, targeted assistance from the Scottish Government to help prepare for the introduction of LEZs has included vehicle retrofit support and money for lower income households and small businesses through the LEZ Support Fund. Interest-free loans are also available through the Energy Saving Trust for purchasing e-bikes, electric vehicles, and home charging points. This focused response has made funding accessible to those who may have the most difficulty complying with LEZ requirements, as well as incentivising a shift away from personal vehicle use.
Cllr Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction said: "Seeking to restrict the most polluting vehicles from the zone area is the right thing to do to ensure that we mitigate the disproportionate impacts of air pollution upon the most vulnerable in our society. I'm heartened that the full roll-out of our LEZ continues to make progress and that we are another step closer toward increasing its effectiveness by widening its reach to include all vehicles. As we move toward full implementation, there will be continued publicity of the scheme and we shall continue to support a wide range of projects and initiatives that ease LEZ compliance including those that encourage higher levels of active and more sustainable travel and a reduced reliance on private vehicles."
The Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Committee papers can be found here.
Following today's Environment Committee meeting, the final LEZ Phase 2 scheme design will go before the City Administration Committee on 10 March 2022 for formal approval. If granted, Glasgow's LEZ scheme design will be submitted to Scottish Ministers, with potential outcomes including approval, a requirement to modify, or a move to formal examination.
Glasgow's LEZ was introduced in 2018 to address levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide in our city centre primarily due to road traffic. This essential public health intervention is intended to improve air quality, offering particular benefit to the most vulnerable, including those with existing heart or lung conditions.
A phased approach to the implementation of Glasgow LEZ has been adopted. Phase 1 affects local service buses only and has seen a far greater proportion of cleaner, low and zero emissions buses now travelling through the city centre. Phase 2 which will be enforced from 1 June 2023 will significantly widen the scope of the scheme to include all vehicles driving into the zone, unless exempt.
Whilst core aspects of Low Emission Zones in Scotland such as emission standards and exemptions have been set nationally, the council can determine the design of Glasgow's LEZ based upon local requirements. Key scheme aspects previously outlined to committee include the enforcement timetable, its geographical area, grace periods for zone residents and hours of operation.