HOW LEZ COULD IMPACT BUSINESSES IN GLASGOW
By Scott McLeod
On June 1st 2023 Low Emission Zones (LEZ) will be put in force by Glasgow City Council.
All vehicles entering the city centre zone area will need to meet the less-polluting emission standards or face a penalty charge. Any diesel engine vehicles registered after September 2015, and petrol vehicles registered from 2006 onwards will meet the required LEZ standards.
Glasgow’s LEZ covers an area of the city centre bounded by the M8 motorway to the north and west, the River Clyde to the south and Saltmarket/High Street to the east. Residents living within the zone will not have to comply until June 2024, and some taxis in Glasgow have also been given extra time to comply.
This is the second phase of Glasgow implementing LEZ with phase one introduced at the end of 2018 when buses were forced to comply. The latest phase has when through several consultations before it could be fully approved with the first consultation being held in March 2020.
The pandemic has delayed the roll out but this next phase of LEZ will finally come into effect on June 1st. Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh are also introducing LEZ, but they will not be enforced until 2024.
There are some exemptions and zone residents have extra time to comply. Fully electric vehicles comply with LEZ requirements in Scotland while motorcycles and mopeds will be unaffected.
Glasgow City Council believe that while the city has made good progress in tackling air pollution, there is still a need to reduce levels of harmful vehicle emissions in our city centre. These can cause health problems, particularly for those most vulnerable.
The Council said on their website: “Harmful nitrogen dioxide is being recorded in our city centre at levels that do not meet the legal requirements.
As the main source of this pollutant is from road traffic, Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone is an essential measure to improve air quality and help protect public health, especially for those most vulnerable.
Glasgow’s LEZ can also help accelerate the uptake of less polluting vehicles, encourage people to move away from private car use & increase the safety, attractiveness, and amenity of our city centre.”
From June 1st LEZ will be in affect 24 hours a day, seven days a week with vehicles that enter LEZ and are found not to meet the standards for vehicle emissions will be issued a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).
The initial penalty charge for all non-compliant vehicles entering a LEZ in Scotland will be £60 – reduced by 50% if it is paid within 14 days. There will be a scheme surcharge which means that the penalty amount will double with each subsequent breach of the rules detected in the same LEZ.
Penalty charges are capped at £480 for cars and light goods vehicles, and £960 for buses and HGVs. Where there are no further breaches of the rules detected within the 90 days following a previous violation, the surcharge rate is reset to the base tier of charge which is £60.
While it is a benefit to the environment signs point to LEZ having a negative impact on several businesses especially those that depend on the use of vehicles. Many of them won’t be able to fully make the change over to vehicles that meet the new standards before June 1st leaving them at risk of being fined.
We recently published a story on our website regarding concerns from Dunns Food & Drink who ordered new compliant vehicles back in November of 2021 but due to circumstances outwith their control they won’t have them until July. This means the business could face heavy fines until those new vehicles arrive as they have 300 customers that live within the zone.
Operations Director Julie Dunn commented on the impact this would have on the business: “To now face potentially tens of thousands of pounds in fines to carry out our day-to-day duties – which are vital to hundreds of businesses in Glasgow City Centre – due to global events outwith our control does not seem right.
I am confident we are not the only wholesaler facing this situation, and I worry many other businesses could be affected too.”
Concerns that businesses like Dunns would be negatively impacted has lead the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) to ask for firms that might not be ready before June to be afforded a grace period.
SWA chief executive Colin Smith said: “Our members’ businesses could be in jeopardy if they are unable to afford to upgrade their vehicles to LEZ compliant.
This would mean members pulling out of delivering to Glasgow businesses, potentially reducing competition, and increasing costs to business, residents and tourists as those complying pass on the investment costs to customers in the form of higher prices.”
Local charity, Emmaus Glasgow recently told GlasgowLive that it fears that LEZ will lead to them being driven off the road.
They offer supported accommodation for 27 people who have experienced homelessness as well as running two weekly soup kitchens and supporting local food banks. They also provide free furniture for people in need.
The majority of the charity’s income comes from the sales of donated furniture and household items with the vans an essential part of their operations. However their vans are over eight years old meaning they don’t meet the LEZ requirements and the charity could face daily fines if they wish to continue their normal services.
Emmaus has had to launch a fundraiser in order to purchase new vans that will comply with LEZ standards.
Richard Allwood, director of Emmaus Glasgow said: “Our vans are an essential part of our operation, enabling us to collect and deliver the items that we need to support our companions and run our shops.
We also run a weekly soup kitchen and the vans are crucial to transporting the food into the city centre to help Glasgow’s homeless and vulnerable community.”
If they’re unable to enter Glasgow it doesn’t just impact Emmaus employees or volunteers but also the vulnerable people who rely on the food and support they provide.
Many people within Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government support LEZ but there are those who are speaking up for the concerns of businesses.
Labour MSP for Glasgow, Pauline McNeill led a debate recently on the impact this would have on Taxi drivers as of a 1,420 fleet there were 1000 that were not compliant with the new standards.
She said: “Although 200 cabs have been given an extra 12 months, people in the rest of the taxi sector have been left to find thousands of pounds that they simply do not have during a cost of living crisis.”
McNeill went onto talk about how important taxis to Glasgow’s transport system and economy. She explained how late night workers rely on taxis to get home after a shift and women, people with disabilities and vulnerable people at night get an “important service” from the drivers.
She added: “It’s time we recognised the importance of the taxi industry and give it the support it needs and deserves; we need to stop the exodus of drivers leaving the profession because of cost of staying in business and impending regulation that is pushing them out of the sector. The world we live in now requires a strong taxi service.”
Businesses in the city centre of Glasgow will be impacted even if they’re not reliant on deliveries as employees who have to drive in for work may not want to come in if it means they face a fine.
This could increase the number of employees working from home, put further strain on employees who are can make it into work or even lead to people switching to a job that doesn’t require them to enter the LEZ zone so frequently.
Multiple businesses within the hospitality & retail sectors have called for a delay in LEZ being enforced as their businesses are still recovering from impact the pandemic had on their industries. The fear is for some less people travelling into the city centre will ultimately the final nail in the coffin for their business.
Glasgow’s high street retail has already been on a sharp decline in recent years with major retailers in areas like Sauchiehall Street closing and the buildings remain unused. At a time where people should be encouraged to come to the city centre and help support local business, LEZ could just drive people further away.
If you’re concerned that your business will be affected by LEZ being implemented, please share your views with us by email on [email protected]