Perth and Kinross Council leaders have reaffirmed their opposition to low emission zones in the Fair City.
Low emissions zones are being introduced in Scotland’s four biggest cities — Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen — at the request of the Scottish Government.
PKC transport bosses have also decided against introducing a zone in Crieff — which suffers from congestion problems.
Campaigners said the local authority had a “fixation” on car use, which has led to them ruling out emission zones.
Officials carried out tests last year to gauge pollution levels in the centres of Perth and Crieff.
They found pollution levels in some areas are falling.
Therefore, they chose not to proceed with plans to introduce low emission zones (LEZ) in areas such as Perth and Crieff, despite both containing areas that are subject to high pollution levels.
A LEZ would have seen a slew of older, more polluting vehicles barred from certain areas.
Would an LEZ have helped?
Felicity Graham, co-convener of Perth Area Living Streets (PALS) feels dropping LEZ plans in Perth is a missed opportunity.
“Improved air quality is part of an improved pedestrian environment,” she said.
“All signs are that Perth and Kinross Council is fixed on a driver-focussed future.”
She said the local authority was putting “all its eggs in one basket” hoping that the Cross Tay Link Road will reduce congestion, and therefore pollution, in Perth.
Felicity said people avoid Atholl Street because of the pollution.
“Reducing traffic is a solution [the council] stubbornly refuse to consider,” she added.
Is the council ‘turning its back’ on the health of residents?
PALS are not alone in their dismay at the decision.
Paul Vallot, co-convener of the local Greens party, said the council has “turned its back” on another scheme that could improve lives of residents.
“We’re arguing not just for LEZs, but something even more optimistic,” he said.
“We seek a change in direction towards actually investing in our city centre and helping more people access local services by foot, bike, bus or even rail.
“Given the list of climb-downs by Perth and Kinross Council at the expense of the pedestrian, city centre inhabitants or cyclists, this latest one doesn’t surprise us.”
Why has the council dropped the plans?
A “screening appraisal” done in two stages found there was no need for a LEZ in Perth or Crieff.
The outcome was verified by both Sepa and the Scottish Government.
A council spokeswoman said: “With no significant changes to air quality… no further screening is required this year.”
Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) are in place in Perth and Crieff.
A council declares a AQMA when it expects an area to breach air quality standards.
Where a AQMA has been declared, local authorities have an obligation to outline measures to improve air quality there.
The proposed improvement measures include:
- Exploring how diverting traffic from A85 in Crieff would affect other streets
- Commissioning air quality experts Ricardo to survey pollution levels
- Increased bike parking facilities in Perth city centre
- New electric charging points
The Perth and Kinross Council spokeswoman added: “The screening appraisal identified the proposed improvement measures for the AQMAs were sufficient.”