It’s pretty hard to escape from reality and the constant reminders that we need to do more to produce less: fewer gases, less pollution, less waste. We all know we can play our part, whether by reusing plastic bags for our weekly trip to the supermarket or using yesterday’s leftovers for the compost in our back garden. Well, the Government is also trying to crack down on these issues; one way being the introduction of low emission zones (LEZs) in cities.
In all started back in 2017 when the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland made a commitment to launch LEZs in Scotland’s 4 largest cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Fast forward a couple of years and the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 set the legislative path towards a cleaner and smarter transport network in Scotland, including the introduction of LEZs.
LEZs prevent the most polluting vehicles from entering these areas and therefore improving the air quality and general public safety in these highly populated areas. Drive into one of these areas with a non-compliant vehicle and you face a Penalty Charge Notice, caught by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras which are dotted around these zones.
We have been advised of the positive impact that LEZs should have on our health and the environment but what about the potential issues it can cause for families and businesses within these zones who do not have compliant cars? It’s easier said than done to get rid of your family car or the vehicle you require to carry out your business – a lifeline for many. And whilst the Energy Saving Trust can provide grants to households, micro businesses and sole traders within LEZs to help fund for compliant vehicles, LEZs can still act as a deterrent for individuals with a non-compliant car who may struggle to use public transport and therefore avoid visiting businesses situated within LEZs altogether. This may cause financial and operational challenges for businesses of all sizes, especially haulage firms and those relying on large fleets of vehicles or deliveries from those vehicles. The grants issued by the Energy Saving Trust may only offer a slither of financial relief for these enterprises when faced with substantial costs for bringing their vehicles up to standard. There is even the possibility of LEZs affecting business premises valuations due to the potential decline in footfall. Only time will really tell of the true impact of LEZs.
The LEZs are an ongoing project in Scotland, and we will undoubtably notice an increase in both residential and commercial areas. Electric vehicles and charging stations are already prevalent throughout our nation. At Thorntons, we work with businesses of all shapes and sizes and understand that it may be difficult to remain positive when new regulations could have a huge impact on your business. We strive to work with you through the challenges and provide you with expert and tailored advice to help overcome these changes.