East Lothian Council Emissions Zone expansion

Thursday September 5th 2019

East Lothian

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Vehicles which do not meet new low emission targets could be banned from entering Musselburgh.

Plans to extend a city-wide Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for Edinburgh to include East Lothian’s biggest town are being put forward by East Lothian Council.

A meeting of its cabinet will be asked to approve talks between the two councils at a meeting next week.

They are asked to support City of Edinburgh Council’s proposed LEZ with a number of conditions including that “East Lothian Council will investigate a collaborative arrangement to include Musselburgh within the Low Emission Zone.”

The move has been welcomed by Musselburgh MSP Colin Beattie who called for measures to be introduced which would ensure low income residents and businesses using older vehicles would not be disadvantaged.

Mr Beattie said: “It is in everyone’s interest that we make an active effort to reduce pollution in our cities and towns, since it is irrefutable that there is a direct link between air pollution and ill health.

“I do understand some of the concerns surrounding LEZ’s. Changes must be carefully thought through and implemented sensitively. In particular we must make sure that those of us who must use older vehicles for employment purposes and who may have a lower income are not disadvantaged by this scheme.

“I would welcome investigations into measures such as vehicle scrappage schemes which could help ease this transition.”

Edinburgh City Council is currently consulting on proposals to introduce a city centre LEZ and extend it to city limits.

It would mean people who drove older vehicles which did not meet the new emission standards into the zone would be fined.

Concerns about the impact of a city-wide LEZ on East Lothian residents have been raised by council officials who warn it could lead to job losses and impact local businesses who required to delivery services in the city.

However the local authority response to the consultation, which will be put before cabinet for approval on Tuesday, supports the general principles of the introduction of the zone.

It includes conditions which, as well as calling for Musselburgh to be included in the zone, also call for the two local authorities to work together to make signposting of where the zone begins clear and look at ways of mitigating the impact on East Lothian communities.

Musselburgh Councillor John Williamson said that East Lothian Council’s recent declaration of a Climate Emergency meant it was important for the local authority to consider ways to reduce emissions.

He said: “I would hope that any potential of Musselburgh being included within the City of Edinburgh Low Emission Zone is thoroughly looked at with (a) appropriate information provided to and (b) consultation with the various communities in Musselburgh to ensure that what our larger neighbour wants is not imposed unilaterally.

“I would imagine that setting up such a scheme will have major implications for many individuals who have vehicles which would not meet the emissions standards.”

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