Aberdeen LEZ protest to be held on launch day as £80,000 spent on advertising scheme

John Wheeler (L) and Douglas Lumsden at Denburn Road ahead of the LEZ launch
-Credit: (Image: Scottish Conservatives)


Campaigners are set to protest against the controversial Low Emission Zone (LEZ) as the scheme goes live in Aberdeen on Saturday, June 1.

It comes as it was revealed Aberdeen City Council has forked out more than £80,000 on advertising the LEZ ahead of this week's launch.

Protestors will be demonstrating at the city's Castlegate at 12pm, with people encouraged to bring signs and banners in opposition to the LEZ, which will ban "high-polluting vehicles" from streets across the city, including Union Street.

READ MORE: Aberdeenshire mum 'blindsided' by cancer diagnosis weeks before 40th birthday

READ MORE: Aberdeenshire hotel's decaying windows could be replaced amid major revamp

New figures show the local authority has spent £83,000 on LEZ "communications and advertising" amid backlash after a recent survey found more than 90% of people are opposed to the zone. It added that Transport Scotland has also had to fork out money on advertising the scheme.

In a separate freedom of information request, the council said 59 of its vehicles are still not compliant with the LEZ just days before it goes live but these will be replaced in "due course."

It has also emerged the council hasn't granted exemption to any public sector vehicles other than emergency services, which have been given national exemption.

Scottish Conservative candidate for Aberdeen South, John Wheeler, who will be attending the protest, visited Denburn Road over concerns about the locations of the LEZ signs.

He believes they are placed too far down the road, meaning motorists have no opportunity to turn back when they realise they are about to enter the LEZ.

John Wheeler said: "Aberdeen’s LEZ zone will hammer hard-pressed motorists with older vehicles who can’t afford to replace them.

"These restrictions are a matter of days away from being imposed on people yet the council themselves have failed to get their own house in order.

"It’s little wonder that a protest has been organised on Saturday which I hope to attend with campaigners to make voices heard.

"Signage is not clear enough and in a lot of cases, are in the wrong position, meaning it is too late to turn back by the time motorists notice they are entering the LEZ.

"It’s appalling that dozens of the council’s own vehicles do not comply with their own law yet they are about to impose fines on people for the same issue.

"Several businesses, including the taxi trade, believe the LEZ could threaten their future which is why both Aberdeen City Council and the SNP Government must listen to any concerns on what impact the scheme is having on them when it goes live."

In response to a question from Scottish Conservative North East MSP Liam Kerr in parliament, transport secretary Fiona Hylop revealed that the council has the powers to make modifications to the scheme.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Mr Kerr called for an urgent government statement ahead of the LEZ going live on Saturday.

He said: "Many have argued that the extent, design and area covered by this scheme must be rethought. They suggest it will discriminate against those less able to afford compliant vehicles, such as those of lesser means, the disabled and the unemployed.

"They suggest that in a context in which the bus gates imposed last August have reportedly reduced city centre footfall by around half a million, businesses and the already struggling Union Street will be further impacted.

"And they suggest that the data on which the council has based its decisions is decades out of date and fails to take account of sources of emissions in the area which will not be ameliorated or impacted at all by an LEZ.

"Given the significance of this issue to not only Aberdeen but also other cities in Scotland, it is imperative that the council be helped to understand that they do have flexibility and can rethink if the data, emissions and necessity has changed.

"The Cabinet Secretary’s statement could clarify where the misunderstandings lie, what data should be used, what variation is appropriate under the legislation, and what their expectations of the council are in considering the likes of disabled people."