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Low Emission Zones

Traffic on South Bridge, Edinburgh

To reduce road transport’s contribution to poor air quality, the Scottish Government is promoting a national Low Emission Zones programme to introduce LEZs in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

In May 2018, the Transport and Environment Committee agreed to the Council taking an ambitious and comprehensive approach to developing LEZs in Edinburgh (including combinations of geographical and vehicle-type restrictions). The decisions taken in May were in line with the Council’s commitment to ‘improve Edinburgh’s air quality and reduce carbon emissions and explore the implementation of low emission zones’.

The primary objectives of LEZ are to improve air quality and reduce the impact of air pollution on human health. Edinburgh’s LEZ development will seek to

  • achieve air quality compliance
  • use an evidence -based approach to identify interventions that reduce impact of air pollution on human health
  • reduce congestion, promote sustainable forms of transport, and achieve placemaking outcomes across Edinburgh

The Council has worked with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to develop an Edinburgh-specific air quality model that predicts kerbside NO2 concentrations over time. The Council is now working with SEPA to use the model to inform and test LEZ options. SEPA's report setting out the results of work undertaken up to late 2018 has been prepared.

SEPA’s report supports the findings of the Council’s ongoing local air quality management in locations with poor air quality across the city. The report highlights that reducing emissions from buses, coaches, and commercial vehicles is likely to be a priority. Emissions from cars is also a major problem, in particular diesel engines.

Edinburgh is on track to have it LEZ in place by 2020. Specific LEZ proposals will be available for public consultation in May 2019. In the meantime, you can find out more about air quality monitoring in Edinburgh.