Aberdeen City Council has reassured motorists that signs for the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) ‘will be clear’.
The LEZ, which will launch on June 1, will be the joint-third implemented across Scotland, with Glasgow’s the only one currently in force after launching in June 2023.
Edinburgh will launch their one on the same day as the Granite City, with Dundee’s coming into place a day earlier on May 31.
Scotland’s four LEZ’s are the toughest and most penalising in the UK, and unlike the controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) in London, will have an outright ban on vehicles that do not comply.
Fines of £60 (reduced to £30 if paid with 14 days) will be in place for motorists who drive in Aberdeen’s LEZ in a non-compliant vehicle and the council is paying £600,000 to prepare for it, including on cameras and signs to cover its 36 entry points.
In London, where drivers have to pay £12.50 for driving in Ulez in a non-compliant vehicle, there have been warnings that the signs do not meet road regulations due to not explicitly warning drivers of the charges.
A previous case saw scaffolder Noel Wilcox take Transport for London (TfL) to court after he was fined £11,500 for not paying seven LEZ tickets in the capital.
However, Mr Wilcox got his fines cancelled, after he successfully argued that TfL’s LEZ signs failed to warn motorists that they were entering a charging zone and that it is applicable 24 hours a day.
Glasgow’s LEZ signs, which the Aberdeen ones will be modelled on, have no mentions of fines on them.
LEZ signs: ‘Expose the council to further court action and costs’
Conservative councillor Duncan Massey, who sits on Aberdeen City Council’s net zero, environment and transport committee, told The P&J he is “concerned” that the signage will be “very confusing” for drivers.
He said: “Signage is also not clear regarding the potential fines and I believe the potential legal challenges against the London LEZ just adds further confusion.
“I would be very concerned that this could expose the council to further court action and costs.”
The councillor, who has been a vocal critic of bus gates in the city, is not a supporter of the LEZ and worries that it will take people away from the centre of Aberdeen.
“I think it is a poor policy that is not wanted or needed and is very damaging to the vitality of our city centre,” the Lower Deeside councillor said.
Councillor Massey, who doubts that the LEZ will improve air quality in Aberdeen, is also concerned about the amount of taxpayer money being spent to implement the scheme.
“At a time when Aberdeen City Council has a very challenging budget due to underfunding from the SNP (Scottish) Government, I believe that these funds could be better used in services that people want, such as road repair, libraries and sports facilities,” he added.
However, the council said that the signs will be legally compliant with The Traffic Signs Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2022, which takes into account signage for LEZ schemes.
Aberdeen City Council co-leader, Liberal Democrat Ian Yuill said: “Road traffic signs put up by the city council have to comply with the law – and the same is true for LEZ signs.”
Inclusion of penalty details ‘could detract from the primary message’
A council spokesman added: “There is different legislation underpinning London’s Ulez and Scottish LEZs in that, in the case of the former, a motorist is agreeing to pay a fee to enter the zone, whereas in Scotland, a driver would be infringing a regulatory sign if entering a LEZ in a non-compliant vehicle.”
When asked why there would be no warning on the signs to inform motorists of fines, a council spokeswoman said: “The inclusion of penalty details on signs would add further information which could detract from the primary message and implications of the sign.”
Regarding LEZ signs in Glasgow, a Glasgow City Council spokeswoman added: “Glasgow’s signage is entirely in keeping with the signage shown in “Know your traffic signs”.
“In particular, the sign includes a picture of a camera, which indicates it is used to enforce traffic regulations.”