The Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction City Policy Committee at Glasgow City Council have considered the outcomes of a statutory public consultation on Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone and supported the publication of its final Phase 2 scheme design, which will affect all vehicles driving into the zone from 1 June 2023.
Glasgow’s LEZ, the first in Scotland, was introduced in 2018 to address levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide in our city centre which is predominantly caused by road traffic. The intervention is intended to protect public health by improving air quality, which is of particular benefit to the old and very young as well as those with existing heart or lung conditions. Environmental advantages include the accelerated uptake of lower emission vehicles, whilst economic gains are also deliverable, with cleaner air increasing the amenity and attractiveness of the city centre.
A phased approach to Glasgow’s LEZ has been adopted to give people the chance to prepare. Phase 1 applies to local service buses only, whereas Phase 2 will significantly increase the scope of the scheme to include all vehicles driving into the city centre zone – unless exempt.
Whilst the Scottish Government has developed nationally standardised regulations and guidance relating to key aspects of Low Emission Zone operation including emission standards, penalties and exemptions, the council can create, enforce, operate or revoke a Low Emission Zone and design its shape, size and scope based on local requirements.
Proposals for the design and operation of Glasgow’s LEZ Phase 2 have been drawn up and recently consulted upon, with almost 3,000 responses received. Key scheme design aspects that were considered by committee included:
- That the scheme should come into effect on 31 May 2022 with a one-year grace period, meaning that enforcement of Glasgow’s LEZ would start on 1 June 2023.
- The granting of an additional one-year grace period for vehicles registered to residential addresses within the LEZ, meaning that enforcement for these vehicles will begin on 1 June 2024.
- A geographical area comprising of much of the city centre, bounded by the M8 motorway to the north and west, the River Clyde to the south and Saltmarket/High St to the east.
- That the scheme operates, 365 days a year and 24 hours a day.
- That applications for a time-limited exemption to LEZ requirements (under circumstances where entry of a non-compliant vehicle is required for a specific, defined purpose) will be determined on merit but will not be considered for the routine transport of people or goods, or for routine commercial operations.
No changes have been proposed to the discretionary design elements of Glasgow’s LEZ following consultation, as on balance it is considered that the impacts from the scheme are reasonable and proportionate having regard to the overall air quality and health benefits that can be delivered. Responses received in respect of the boundary however, such as feedback pertaining to specific junctions and signage will help to inform any minor revisions necessary to ensure an efficient and practical operation of the zone area itself. No major changes to the zone boundary are anticipated however, in order to ensure that all areas of the city centre receive the air quality benefits of the LEZ and meet air quality objectives.
Engagement will continue with citizens and other stakeholders throughout the design and delivery phases of Glasgow’s LEZ. There is also a continuing requirement highlighted by the consultation to tailor and target communications that increase awareness and understanding of core scheme elements, particularly in respect of exemptions, vehicle emission requirements and the health benefits deliverable by taking a penalty-based approach. In addition, there will be continued cross-promotion of Scottish Government funding schemes to mitigate the concerns of those who will have the most difficulty preparing for the introduction of LEZs in Scotland.
Cllr Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction said: “Glasgow’s LEZ is already making a difference, with air quality improvements evident since its introduction, and greater numbers of greener, cleaner buses now travelling through our city centre and the surrounding areas. Expanding Glasgow’s LEZ to include all vehicles as part of the Phase 2 scheme design is an ambitious but essential measure to ensure that we deliver the air quality improvements that we need to see to protect public health, especially as we know that air pollution disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in our society. We’ll continue to engage widely to ensure that everyone understands how Glasgow’s LEZ will operate, the health benefits it will deliver and how to prepare ahead of its full roll-out in June 2023.”
The LEZ Phase 2 final scheme design will now be published for a period of at least 28 days during which time formal objections can be registered. A report on any objections received will be prepared and the scheme adjusted if necessary. This will be detailed in a report to committee in early 2022, where permission will be sought to refer the final scheme to the City Administration Committee for approval. If approval is granted, Glasgow’s final LEZ scheme will be submitted to Scottish Ministers, with potential outcomes including approval, a requirement to modify, or a move to formal examination.