Accountant Raises Concerns Over Economic Impact Of Low Emission Zones

As Scotland prepares to implement low emission zones (LEZs) in its major cities on June 1, Edinburgh accountant Euan Fernie has expressed concerns about the potential economic impact on businesses. While acknowledging the importance of improving air quality for the environment and public health, Fernie believes business owners have valid apprehensions about the scheme’s introduction.

Under the LEZ scheme, only vehicles meeting minimum emission standards will be allowed access to designated zones. Typically, this will affect diesel vehicles registered before September 2015 and petrol vehicles registered before 2006. Non-compliant vehicles entering the zone will be subject to fines.

Fernie highlighted the disproportionate impact on businesses that cannot afford less-polluting vehicles or alternative forms of transport. Although government help is available through the Energy Savings Trust’s LEZ Retrofit Fund, there are limitations based on business size and vehicle type.

The accountant acknowledged the potential health benefits of the scheme, such as improved air quality, increased use of public transport and active travel and the encouragement of more environmentally friendly vehicles. However, he also pointed out concerns over the impact on city center footfall and the belief that the scheme unfairly affects low-income and disabled people, students and those who drive for their job.

Fernie emphasized the need to support businesses through the transition and suggested that local authorities should incentivize city center use by improving public transport and making rates more affordable for businesses. He added that the true picture of the economic impact of Scotland’s LEZ will become apparent over time.