Responding to the publication for consultation of the “Low Emission Strategy for Scotland” by the Scottish Government, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has expressed strong concern about the unusually short timescales proposed for implementing Low Emission Zones (LEZs).

“Air pollution in British cities has improved significantly in the last decades, partly thanks to the improvements in van and HGV technology that mean they now have a fraction of the emissions of the past. We are tightly regulated through the EU’s ‘Euro’ engine standards and these will continue to deliver the air quality improvements that are required of us, even if now further action is taken,” said FTA’s Head of Urban Logistics Policy Christopher Snelling, commenting on the publication.

The FTA also stated that LEZs have an appeal to campaigners and politicians as they sound dramatic, but often the best practical solutions are less exciting measures, such as traffic resequencing in key streets.

“The biggest concern in these proposals is the potential timescale for implementation. The document correctly notes that “it is vital to the potential success of an LEZ that affected vehicle owners and operators are given sufficient notice to ensure compliance before the LEZ is established,” Snelling said.

However, the FTA noted that the document states that the notice period should be a maximum of two years – compared to the total seven years notice that will have passed by the time London’s Euro VI LEZ comes into force. So far, nowhere else in Europe has implemented a Euro VI LEZ, let alone at such short timescales.

The Association outlined that if a Scottish council were to take up this document’s suggestion this year and announces a Euro VI/6 LEZ (as recommended in the Strategy) it would start in 2017. That would mean any commercial van older than three years would be excluded, while for some van classes those more than one year old would be banned. The FTA also noted that this measure would see two-year-old diesel cars being excluded.

“Two years notice might work if what is planned is a lower standard bus-only LEZ – as implemented successfully in Brighton recently. However, if we are to avoid significant disruption to local economies in town and city centers, commercial vehicles operators, and we’d assume private motorists, need notice periods akin to those being given in London,” said Snelling.