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‘Fines are the target’: Protestors gather in Aberdeen as LEZ comes into force

Fines will now be issued to motorists who drive in the zone in a non-compliant vehicle.

People protesting the LEZ in Aberdeen
Protesters gathered at the Castlegate on Saturday. Image: DC Thomson.

People have marched through the city centre to protest the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) which comes into force in Aberdeen today.

The Scottish Government has rolled out zones in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, as well as Aberdeen, to take action on air pollution.

In the Granite City, the LEZ covers 0.5% of the city centre and is estimated to impact about 14% of cars.

It has been introduced to help tackle serious health problems, particularly among children, arising from poor air quality.

However, a number of north-east residents believe the new zone will not make Aberdeen a cleaner and more sustainable city.

LEZ protestors holding signs
Protestors came armed with signs and banners. Image: DC Thomson.

Instead, they think the measures are a way for the council to “increase revenue through fines”.

Any motorists with high-polluting vehicles who drive into the designated area will be issued a £60 fine – reduced to £30 if paid within days.

The fixed penalty notice will double with each subsequent breach of the rules, which is capped at £480 for cars.

Protest against Aberdeen LEZ

As the LEZ came into force in Aberdeen, protestors gathered at the Castlegate to make their views clear about the new rules.

Dozens of people turned out armed with signs and banners stating “Say No to LEZ” and “Take Back Democracy”.

The protest was organised by an online group whose members are opposed to the LEZ, bus gates and 20mph zones.

Man holding yellow sign shown from back
The protestors made their feelings clear. Image: DC Thomson.

One of the group organisers, Graeme Craib, said: “We’re not happy because the council is not listening to us.

“The vast majority of the city is completely against the LEZ. There was a consultation but nobody knew about it. It went under the radar.

“The next thing you know, it’s happening. Some of the folk in our group did a survey and 90% of people were opposed.

“We’re saying no. It needs to be stopped.”

Following the gathering at Castlegate, the protestors took off in a march down Union Street – which is included in the zone – to further spread their message.

Among those in attendance were Scottish Conservative MSP Douglas Lumsden, Aberdeen South MP candidates Gill Tebberen and John Wheeler, and councillors Michael Kusznir and Duncan Massey, who have all said they are against the LEZ.

Woman holding LEZ protest sign
The protestors main message was “Say no to LEZ”. Image: DC Thomson.

‘Absolutely livid’

This week, it was revealed the council has spent almost £1.5 million on the clean air zone ahead of it coming into force today.

Some of the protestors in attendance argued the LEZ will make no difference due to the harbour and train station being located so close by.

Jane Toye said: “I’ve got a diesel car so I can’t drive from my house down to the beach past the smoke-belching boats in the harbour which doesn’t make sense.

“It’s affecting people who live in the zone – not everybody has money to buy new cars.

“People think it’s great you can cycle around in fresh air. But what are you going to cycle to see? There’s nothing here.”

David Scott echoed the views and added north-east residents are put off using buses as an alternative because the service is not up to scratch.

Protestors at Castlegate
Protestors gathered at Castlegate. Image: DC Thomson.

“They’re trying to force people to use the buses,” he added. “The whole thing is nonsense.

“You’ve got a massive harbour metres from here. Every one of those boats has engines that are never switched off.

“They’re polluting this city yet the motorist is being penalised. I’m absolutely livid about that.”

Others raised fears the restrictions could have an impact on businesses in the city centre if footfall decreases as drivers try to avoid fines.

Jennifer Ronsberg said: “We’ve got all these ships in the harbour with their engines running and the train station, so what difference do the cars make?

“It’s going to expand, it’ll end up being the whole town and all cars. Fines, fines, fines. The town will die.”