The leader of a new campaign to scrap Dundee’s Low Emission Zone has promised city protests to wreck the clean air initiative.
The membership of the group is “rising rapidly”. They are “completely against” LEZ and 20mph zones in Dundee.”
Although it is unclear of what form their protests will take, the group leader told The Courier there will be “protests in city square etc. coming once we have significant numbers”.
The campaigner, who wishes to remain anonymous, set up the Dundee Against ULEZ page in September. Their page has now reached 1.4K followers.
The page has shared images of vandalised cameras and Automatic Number Plate Registration vans in various locations in England, where LEZ schemes are already enforcing rules clamping down on older vehicles.
The campaigner told The Courier: “We want all LEZ areas scrapped.
“As for environmentalists, take the enviro part out of that word and that’s what you have.”
The Dundee campaign comes as actor Laurence Fox was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of conspiring to commit criminal damage to the ULEZ cameras.
Although the group leader told The Courier they “don’t condone” acts of criminal damage seen in England, they have shared images of what appears to be a ULEZ mobile van in Sidcup being vandalised with paint alongside the message “What did they expect?”
The Dundee page also shared an image of ULEZ protestors armed with what appears to be a chainsaw, grinder and drill with the message: “Coming to a street near you.”
What are LEZ ‘Blade Runners’?
The Scottish Government have planned Low Emission Zones in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen in an aim to improve these cities’ air quality.
Dundee City Council introduced the Low Emission scheme in May 2022, and will begin enforcement on May 30 2024.
The council are planning to bring more 20mph speed limits to the city over the next ten years.
Members of the anti Dundee LEZ Facebook group are against both the LEZ and 20mph zones in Dundee – and they aren’t the only ones.
Across the UK, there have been acts of vandalism in protest of ULEZ areas.
There were reportedly 795 crimes recorded relating to ULEZ cameras between April 1 and September 31 in London. The Met has also said there were 200 reports of stolen cameras and 595 cases of damage to the cameras.
Enforcement began in Glasgow on June 1 2023, but drivers entering the Dundee zone with banned vehicles will not be charged until May 30 2024.
Glasgow City Council told The Courier that as far as they are aware, there has been no damage to LEZ cameras or signs there.
The Dundee LEZ cameras were installed earlier this year, but are not yet used to enforce the zone.
Members of groups who vandalise enforcement cameras refer to themselves as the “Blade Runners”, after the 1982 science fiction film featuring Harrison Ford.
Some of them subscribe to a conspiracy theory where Low Emission Zones are being introduced as a form of government control.
Dundee LEZ ‘political ideology gone mad’?
The owner of the anti-Dundee LEZ page told The Courier: “This is political ideology gone mad.
“In Dundee, the people forcing these insane policies are the SNP. We hold them entirely responsible for this stealth tax on predominantly poorer and elderly citizens, which will turn them into second class citizens who can’t drive their older car into the city they’ve lived in all their lives.
“We also believe this is just the starting point for this attack on motorists.
“And the powers that be intend to have these zones and speed limit all over our great city.
“We intend to bring this issue to the forefront of the conversation.”
A post on the ‘Dundee Against LEZ’ page, calls out the “wretched council”.
It reads: “Liars, con artists who want to fleece us all starting with the most vulnerable in our city.
“We can stop this in its tracks but we need to be organised and in very big numbers. So please keep trying.”
They told The Courier: “We intend to block vote out any politician who supports these crazy policies.
“We will call out their lies and challenge them on it on behalf of the vast majority of the Dundee public [who] totally opposed to this madness.”
West End Liberal Democrat councillor Fraser Macpherson says the LEZ is “proportionate and sensible” response to air quality concerns.
He said: “First and foremost, we agreed to the Low Emission Zone before the last election. So in terms of voting out politicians, the whole of the 29 people in May 2022 who were elected for parties and supported the Low Emission Zone.
He said many of the people ‘liking’ posts on social media criticising the zone may not be living locally.
“Frankly, you could be living in Australia and like a post from the UK.”
He added: “I have been on the council for 22 years, I have 14,500 constituents and I wouldn’t potentially know everyone personally, but I know a lot of people in my ward and my mailbox on this issue has been very light indeed.
“Most people out there realise the need for clean air and realise if we want to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren.
“It would be absolute nonsense to say there hasn’t been air quality issues in the city centre.”
Councillor Macpherson highlighted figures by Friends of the Earth which includes Lochee Road Dundee in the top five of most polluted streets for nitrogen dioxide in Scotland in 2022.
He added: “Whether I agree with them or not, people are entitled to their opinion.
“I would say that the ballot box has already spoken on this one because all four parties that are represented on the council supported the LEZ.
“We have had no actions of an inappropriate nature in Dundee and that’s how we would hope and expect it to continue.
“But anything that involves vandalism is a police matter and Police Scotland will deal with anything like that.”
Anti-Dundee LEZ protests ‘coming’
The anti-Dundee LEZ Facebook page features many shared images of vandalism that has taken place in and around London.
One shared post from September 18 of a vandalised ANPR camera van in Sidcup, London has the attached comment “What did they expect?”
When people are ignored, they take matters into their own hands.”
‘Dundee Against ULEZ’ page owner.
Another Facebook post, a shared image of a set of destroyed cameras in London also from September 18 states: “Another one bites the dust.”
A different post featuring vandalised ULEZ cameras in SE2 London reads: “When the powers that be don’t listen, this is what happens. Can anyone blame the blade runners[?] We say NO.
And another: “We can use any and all methods to stop this lunacy.”
When asked if the group are planning to take down Dundee LEZ cameras or signs as their posts imply, the group leader said:
“As regards posts about what’s happening in London with all the cameras being stolen or damaged, we don’t condone it but we can understand when people are ignored they take matters into their own hands.
“Politicians are supposed to work for the public, not foist ideological thinking on them who the vast majority do not align with this thinking [sic].”
The group leader denied that there are legitimate air quality concerns for the city.
They said: “There is absolutely nothing wrong with emission levels anywhere in Dundee.
Dundee LEZ defended by council
A Dundee City Council spokesperson said: “The Low Emission Zone in Dundee is the culmination of a number of years of planning and consultation and will be enforced from May next year.
“The LEZ is being introduced to contribute to council efforts to meet greenhouse emissions reductions targets, as outlined within the Dundee Climate Action Plan published in 2019, and to help promote the city as an inclusive and desirable place to live, invest, visit and learn.
“Compliance with the vehicle emissions standards set by the LEZ is mandatory and will assist in maintaining air quality benefiting everyone.”