Scots push for the lead in low emissions and active travel

 

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on bringing in low emission zones (LEZs) as part of clean air plans that also include a target to phase out ‘the need for’ petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032.

Although the devolved administration said the commitment on petrol and diesel cars and vans was ‘eight years before the rest of the UK’, it does not represent a pledge to ban the sale of new vehicles of this type, which was part of the UK Government’s latest air quality plan.

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The Scottish Parliament building at sunrise

In its new Programme for Government, the Scottish Government pledged ‘a target to phase out the need for petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032, underpinned by a range of actions to expand the charging network, support innovative approaches and encourage the public sector to lead the way’.

It added: ‘We recognise that many of the key fiscal levers still rest with the UK Government and we note their 2040 commitment. We will ask them to play their part in meeting our ambitions by making full use of their reserved powers to help shape the market, including through vehicle standards and taxation.’

Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf announced a consultation on the devolved administration’s plans to introduce LEZs, including in Scotland’s four biggest cities by 2020.

The Scottish Government will shortly announce the location of the first LEZ, to be put in place in 2018.

Mr Yousaf said: ‘We have a clear vision for Scotland’s air quality to be the best in Europe. However, poor air quality remains a public health issue, particularly for those with existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

‘This consultation will help us deliver Low Emission Zones that are well designed with consistent national standards, in partnership with Scottish local authorities and regional transport partnerships. 

‘The vehicles to be included in, or be exempt from, LEZs will be for individual local authorities to decide, but could include freight, taxis, buses and private motor vehicles. The consultation also seeks views on issues such as lead-in times, operating hours and enforcement.’

The administration’s Programme for Government also includes doubling investment that supports active walking and cycling from £40m to £80m per year from 2018-19.

Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy, said: ‘What a move from Scotland! This unprecedented level of investment into active travel from a national government clearly shows the first minister means business when she talks of addressing Scotland’s environmental and health commitments.

‘Cycling UK would urge England, Wales and Northern Ireland to look to their own public health and environment commitments, and follow in Scotland’s tyre tracks.’

 

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