Aberdeen aims to lead the way in tackling air pollution

The first step towards creating Low Emission Zones in Aberdeen has been taken as the city continues its commitment to environmental innovation.

Councillors voted in favour of exploring the feasibility of creating zones throughout the city when the Aberdeen City Council 2017/18 budget was approved yesterday (Wednesday).

Officers have been instructed to report back to full Council when elected members meet in June with their initial findings.

Low Emission Zones have been utilised in 200 European cities across 13 countries to reduce urban pollution and can take a variety of forms, from restricting access for vehicles with high emissions to introducing tariffs based on emission levels. They have also been used to set emission targets for public transport within designated zones.

Councillor Ross Grant, Aberdeen City Council’s Transport and Regeneration spokesman, said: “Low Emission Zones were a key part of our budget proposals and we are pleased to be progressing with the feasibility study, which we hope will demonstrate the benefits this approach could bring.

“To date no Scottish city has introduced a Low Emission Zone but as a local authority we have demonstrated our ability to innovate and Aberdeen City Council is keen to lead the way if a strong business case can be demonstrated.

“We await the findings of officers but in principle it is clear Low Emission Zones could be of great benefit to the city, where air quality has been an issue of concern despite a variety of positive moves to make improvements.

“As a Council we have embraced environmental projects of all scales – from our own electric vehicle fleet and investment in cycle paths through to the £21million Hydrogen Bus Project. All have a common goal of creating a better environment for all.

“Low Emission Zones have the potential to continue that good work and this week’s decision will allow us to move forward and identify next steps.”

At yesterday’s budget meeting councillors agreed the Scottish Government, partners organisations and other stakeholders would have a significant role in the development of a business case for Low Emission Zones in Aberdeen. The National Low Emission Zone Framework will be reflected in the business case prepared by Aberdeen City Council.