Cabbies and hauliers hit out at plan for low emission zone in Dundee

(C) DC ThomsonTraffic in Dundee city centre.

Dundee's proposed low emission zone (LEZ) is set to reduce city centre traffic - but what does this mean for the city's professional drivers? From cabbies and hauliers to bus drivers, those who drive for a living still need to be able to access the city once restrictions on polluted vehicles come in. They have warned of an adverse economic impact if they cannot.

Long-awaited details of Dundee's LEZ were published for the first time this week. An 80-page study commissioned by the council concluded that banning polluting vehicles from the area within the Marketgait was the best option. Euro 6 diesel engines and Euro 4 petrol motors are expected to be the minimum permitted in the zone, set to go live in 2020.

Dundee public have say on Low Emission Zone which would see some vehicles banned

However, for taxi drivers who ply their trade in the city centre, the proposal represents a unique challenge.

They are expected to adhere to emission standards to enter the zone - and two of the city's busiest ranks are inside. Chris Elder, local taxi branch rep at Unite, said many cabbies don't have - and can't afford - cars that meet the standards.

Cabbies and hauliers hit out at plan for low emission zone in Dundee(C) DC ThomsonChris Elder.

He said: "We aren't against the plan but there has got to be a bit of give and take. "We buy our own vehicles and can only do that now and then.

"It's different for council staff going about in their electric vehicles that have been paid for through grants. "The government is going to have to look at giving us substantial grants. This is particularly going to affect the guys driving wheelchair taxis as their cars cost about GBP30,000."

Drivers are set to be consulted via the taxi liaison group - but Mr Elder called for representatives to be given a voice at council committees where the plans will be decided.

"We need proper consultation with councillors and officers, and I would love to be at those meetings," he added. "We should be involved in any talks they are having, round the table with those making these decisions so they know where the taxi trade is coming from. "They've got to make sure people are ready for this."

Cabbies and hauliers hit out at plan for low emission zone in Dundee(C) DC ThomsonA map showing the proposed low emission zone.

Administration councillors in Dundee have hinted at expanding the LEZ in future - which could affect the legions of lorries that pass through the city.

Members of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) are set to meet LEZ officers next week. Scotland policy director Martin Reid has concerns about a zone spreading out as far as Riverside Drive. He said: "Everyone has the right to clean air - but the flipside is the introduction of LEZs is going to affect haulage firms.

"Asking businesses to replace their lorries - which are usually changed every 10-12 years - for Euro 6 diesel engines requires an awful lot of capital. Cabbies and hauliers hit out at plan for low emission zone in Dundee "It wasn't so long ago the government was praising Euro 5 engines - so asking businesses to find another GBP80,000 per vehicle is going to be difficult.

"The shape of how we get about is changing dramatically. "What we are asking for is that the restrictions are proportional to the problem. "Dundee's doesn't have as much of an issue as Glasgow or Edinburgh - so make sure businesses can still operate."

Local bus firms have vowed to work with the council on firming up the LEZ plans.

But David Frenz, operations director for Stagecoach East Scotland, warned: "We are more than willing to engage and work with all parties in improving the air quality throughout Dundee and the surrounding area, but bus use - along with other forms of active travel - should be encouraged and not restricted."

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