Scottish LEZs paused thanks to COVID-19

Plans to implement Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in four Scottish cities have been “paused” because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Transport Scotland has announced.

The decision was taken by the LEZ Leadership Group. It includes Transport Secretary Michael Matheson (pictured), Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and representatives from local authorities (LAs) in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The LEZs were scheduled to be implemented later this year. Transport Scotland says the pause will “provide an opportunity to consider the kind of transport systems we want to see return to our cities after coronavirus COVID-19.”

Mr Matheson says that the pandemic has led to changes in priorities across the Scottish Government and its LA partners. That has made the introduction of LEZs in Scotland by the end of 2020 “no longer practicable.”

However, he adds that although the LEZs are now paused, the Scottish Government remains committed to introducing them eventually.

“Given the recent uptake in active travel and air quality levels, we are going to take the opportunity to review how LEZs can be designed and how our cities might witness a green transformation in tandem with the coronavirus COVID-19 recovery plans.

“We must be bold in our actions to reset the system to meet our climate change ambitions, reduce inequalities, improve our health and wellbeing and deliver sustainable economic growth.”

At the Confederation of Passenger Transport’s Scottish Conference on 4-5 November 2019, Mr Matheson had said that introduction of the four LEZs during 2020 was “critical”. Glasgow has already commenced a staged rollout of its LEZ.

In April it was announced that LEZs in England outside London will now not be introduced until 2021. That was quickly followed by confirmation that the change to the London LEZ that would have required Euro VI compliance, originally scheduled to be introduced on 26 October, will now not be enforced until at least the end of February 2021.