Environmental campaigners have criticised City of Edinburgh Council’s Low Emission Zone which was formally passed by the council today (27 January). The Low Emission Zone was initially planned to be a city-wide zone for large vehicles, with a smaller area to restrict the most polluting cars. Now, it only covers a section of the Old Town.

The LEZ was finally passed by the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee after they were sent back for revision in October, but no further changes were made.

Edinburgh’s Low Emission Zone was first announced in 2016, but was delayed by Covid-19.  It will begin in June 2022 with a two-year grace period. The oldest vehicles will be restricted from some parts of the Old Town from June 2024.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Transport Campaigner Gavin Thomson said:

“A Low Emission Zone is a measure to protect public health, and people in Edinburgh have waited a long time to breathe clean air. It is a huge shame that the zone has shrunk so markedly from the council’s initial plans. It will now only improve air quality for a small area of the city, ignoring the health impacts being faced by people living in other highly polluted neighbourhoods. 

“Edinburgh Council has to introduce measures that will improve air quality across the whole city. Measures such as pedestrianisation, a network of cycle lanes, and expanding public transport provision are sorely needed for protecting public health.”

Find out more about Low Emission Zones

Edinburgh’s Low Emission Zone: https://www.lowemissionzones.scot/about/local-zones/edinburgh

City of Edinburgh Council has committed to 30% reduction in car use over the next decade: https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/news/article/13357/targets-for-a-sustainable-transport-future