Aberdeen has a chance for clean air and a better city, say campaigners
The proposals from Aberdeen City Council for a Low Emission Zone have been welcomed by campaigners, who say they have the potential to transform the city’s air pollution problems.
The Council is consulting on different options for a Low Emission Zone, which restricts the most polluting vehicles to protect health. Zones are also being progressed in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. The zones were recently delayed by the Scottish Government, originally due in 2020, they will now not begin operating until mid-2022.
The consultation asks respondents to choose their favoured option for the size of the zone, and the timeline for introducing it. Friends of the Earth Scotland have backed the largest Zone to ensure the greatest public health boost. They have also urged Council officials to ensure the Zone is up and running as soon as possible, saying any further delay to air pollution action means residents will be forced to continue breathing toxic traffic fumes.
Campaigners say that an effective LEZ should be accompanied by a range of other measures, such as an end to road expansion, improved public transport, and cycle lanes of the kind that the Council recently cancelled.
Some of the options for Aberdeen are ambitious, and would create a larger area for clean air than are currently planned in Dundee and Edinburgh. The consultation runs until October 11th, and the environmental group are encouraging everyone to respond and speak up for clean air.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner Gavin Thomson said:
“After a long wait, it’s great to see Aberdeen Council finally bring forward the options for the city’s Low Emission Zone. Cities in Scotland, including Aberdeen, have been breaching legal air quality limits since 2010, putting public health at risk. The longer we wait the more people are exposed to dangerous air pollution as they go to school, to work or visit the city centre.
“To be effective, Aberdeen’s zone needs to cover a large area, to ensure all pollution hot spots are dealt with, and include all vehicle types. The option from the council that covers the ‘City Centre Masterplan Area’ would ensure that all pollution hot spots are addressed. We need as many people as possible to have their say on this consultation; this is about clean air for people in Aberdeen, it’s about tackling climate change, and it’s about making a city that businesses and tourists will choose over the competition.
“This Zone needs to sit alongside other measures to bring Aberdeen’s transport into the 21st century. The recent cancellation of the cycle scheme in Bridge of Don is just the most recent example of Aberdeen City Council’s questionable commitment to making cycling a safe alternative to the car. The Low Emission Zone will be introduced over the next few years, until the oldest of every vehicle type will be prevented from entering the zone. It is critical that we use this period to improve our public transport, and make sure the city has a joined-up cycle network.”
The consultation for Aberdeen’s Low Emission Zone was published on 14 September 2020. It closes on October 11. Update – now closing 25 October
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s response to Aberdeen LEZ consultation
Free to use photos from a 2018 air pollution protest in Aberdeen
Low Emission Zones in Scotland’s 4 biggest cities were promised in the 2017 Programme for Government
‘Sigh of relief’ as Aberdeen bike lane plans scrapped over congestion worries (Tues 29 Sep 2020)
Council-owned buses would be boost to public health in Aberdeen, say campaigners
There has been a significant increase in cycling since Covid-19 restrictions began
Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.