The Scottish and Welsh Governments are holding separate public consultations on proposals to reduce vehicle emissions and simultaneously improve air quality.
The Scottish Government has previously outlined plans to have four Low Emission Zones in place to address air quality in the country by 2020 – Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The country’s first Low Emission Zone came into effect in Glasgow from December 31, 2018 and applies to buses only. The Zone will be extended to all vehicle types from December 31, 2022.
The newly published consultation, which runs until February 24, 2020, outlined proposed current and future town and city Low Emission Zone entry standards and the enforcement regime.
Meanwhile, road pricing, Clean Air Zones and/or Low Emission Zones and increasing the proportion of vehicles which are electric and ultra-low (ULEV) emission are all on the agenda as the Welsh Government runs a 12-wek consultation on improving air quality.
It is also working on a proposal for all new cars and light goods vehicles in the public sector to be ultra-low emissions by 2025 and where practicably possible, all HGVs to be ultra-low emission by 2030.
The Scottish Government is proposing that Low Emission Zone entry standards are Euro 6/VI for diesel vehicles and Euro 4 for petrol vehicles this follows the entry criteria for the existing London Ultra-Low Emission Zone and that being suggested by other English towns and cities planning Clean Air Zones.
However, the document makes clear that stricter Low Emission Zone standards could be introduced to meet the Scottish Government’s commitment to move to towards zero or ultra-low emission city centres by 2030 as part of the phasing out of the need to buy petrol and diesel engine cars and vans by 2032.
The proposed penalty for non-compliance with Low Emission Zone entry criteria is a ‘base level’ fine of £60 for cars, vans, minibuses and taxis reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days and £500 for HGVs, buses and coaches reduced to £250 if paid within 14 days.
However, in a move at variance with penalties in other town and cities across England, the Scottish Government is proposing a tiered surcharge option. For cars, vans, minibuses and taxis that could see a £120 fine on second contravention reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days and then incremental graduation up to a maximum of £5,000. For HGVs, buses and coaches a second contravention could incur a fine of £1,000 reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days and then a similar incremental graduation up to a maximum of £5,000.
It is also proposed that three contraventions in the same Low Emission Zone within a 28-day period would see the punishment increased by one tier in the penalty system. Low Emission Zone entry would be enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras at entry points.
Air pollution is claimed to be the largest environmental risk to the public’s health and Public Health Wales estimates it contributed to between 1,000 and 1,400 deaths in 2017.
Now ‘The Clean Air Plan for Wales, Healthy Air, Healthy Wales’ proposes a wide ranging series of new actions and commitments as a stepping stone to a new Clean Air Act for Wales.
On road pricing, Clean Air Zones and/or Low Emission Zones the consultation document says: “We will continue to review the role of vehicle access restriction, including whether road-user charging and banning of the most polluting vehicles has a role to play in reducing roadside levels of air pollution.”
The document also makes clear that toll roads as well as anti-idling legislation could be part of a move to “align the opportunities presented by Low Emission Zones and Clean Air Zones with wider transport policy initiatives in Wales”.
The document, which is open to consultation until March 10, 2020, continues: “Promoting a switch from petrol and diesel road vehicles to electric and other ultra-low emission power is an essential element of our approach to tackle transport CO2 emissions and reducing air pollutants.”
The Welsh Government has already pledged to invest £2 million by 2020 to help create a network of rapid charging points to enable long distance travel by electric vehicles throughout Wales.
- The Scottish Government consultation document can be accessed at: https://www.transport.gov.scot/media/46548/scotland-s-low-emission-zones-consultation-on-regulations-and-guidance.pdf
- The Welsh Government consultation document can be accessed at: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultations/2019-12/consultation-a-clean-air-plan-for-wales.pdf