News

Transport Scotland has published a Consultation which seeks opinion on issues that underpin the operation and delivery of Low Emission Zones (LEZs).

This includes:

  • emission standards;
  • exemptions; and
  • penalty charges.

Scope

Scotland is facing legal, environmental, health and social challenges around air pollution, where non-compliance with domestic and European air quality legislation is mainly due to road-based emissions, with high pollution hotspots associated with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particular matter (PM) remain in a number of Scottish cities.

The purpose of this Consultation is to set out the proposed arrangements and options related to the nationally consistent LEZ standards which will be set out in legislation in conjunction with specific guidance.

The Programme for Government committed to the introduction of LEZs into Scotland's four biggest cities between 2018 and 2020, and into Air Quality Management Areas by 2023 where National Low Emission Framework appraisals support this approach.

Part 2 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 contains provisions that will enable the creation and civil enforcement of LEZs by local authorities and allows the Scottish Ministers to set nationally consistent standards on matters such as emission standards, penalties and exemptions.

This Consultation also seeks views on the LEZ Guidance which will outline a range of exemplar voluntary objectives for local authorities to consider across a range of topical areas and opinions are welcome on the type and form of the voluntary objectives.

Responding to this Consultation

This Consultation is open for responses from 13 December 2019 until 24 February 2020.

The way to respond is by completing an online survey on the Scottish Government's portal.

For more information, see:

"The moment of crisis has come"
Published: 16 Jan 2020

Alongside Greta Thunberg, Sir David Attenborough has in recent years become a figurehead in the fight against climate change. And it is a fight. We've been warned repeatedly for several years that the time for action is now or our planet will face irreparable damage through human-induced climate change. Yet many governments around the world have failed to implement comprehensive action that will make a real difference.

Sir David has now said that the "moment of crisis has come", adding that "we have been putting things off for year after year". The comments, given in an interview with the BBC, are in response to current environmental issues, such as the raging bush fires in Australia, heightened by arid land and climatic conditions which are worsened by human activities. "As I speak," Sir David said, "south-east Australia is on fire. Why? Because the temperatures of the Earth are increasing."

There was hope that the Paris Agreement signed in 2016 would be the beginning of significant change. High hopes were also placed on the discussions at COP25 in December 2019. Despite the fact COP25 was the longest UN climate talks in history, it ended with little to no agreement on tangible changes to protect our planet. Instead, it challenged delegates to make new climate pledges in time for COP26 taking place in Glasgow in November, a decision that led the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to say: "The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis."

Given that scientists have recently confirmed that the 2010s was the hottest decade on record and 2019 was one of the warmest years ever seen, it is no wonder that Sir David is choosing to speak up in the strongest of terms.

Whilst some governments have already made different pledges to take action, there is no guarantee that it will actually happen. The UK has been one of the more active countries in this area, setting a legally binding zero carbon emissions target by 2050, although decisions need to be made soon about how this will be achieved and then actions implemented to make sure it actually happens.

Sir David said, "We have to realise that this is not playing games," adding "This is not just having a nice little debate, arguments and then coming away with a compromise.

"This is an urgent problem that has to be solved and, what's more, we know how to do it - that's the paradoxical thing, that we're refusing to take steps that we know have to be taken."

Let us hope the world begins to listen to Sir David and other prominent activists.

A new unit will bring together law enforcement agencies and environmental regulators to target waste criminals.

On 16 January a new task force called the Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) was created to tackle serious and organised waste crime, such as dumping hazardous materials on private land, false labelling and financial fraud. The unit will bring together law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators, HMRC and the National Crime Agency to crack down on waste crime, which in 2018 alone cost UK economy at least £600 million, and the Home Office found that perpetrators are often involved in other criminal activities, such as large scale fraud and modern slavery.

The Governmental press release states that the new unit will conduct site inspections, make arrests and prosecutions and, upon conviction, push for heavy fines and prison sentences.

By working together JUWC will be able to share the intelligence between agencies more easily and promptly to take swifter action when investigating criminal waste operations and other related illegal activities, such as money laundering and human trafficking.

The new unit will significantly improve the Environment Agency's existing efforts to tackle waste crime. Last year, the Environment Agency's waste team stopped illegal activities at 912 sites, up by 12% from the previous year, and as a result of the prosecutions, businesses and individuals together were fined almost £2.8 million for environmental offences in 2018.

Chair of the JUWC Board, Toby Willson said: "The war against waste crime just took a giant step forward. The launch of this new unit means we have now a full complement of partners across law enforcement as well as our counterparts in Scotland and Wales to bring down waste criminals for good.

"We will target serious and organised criminals across the country as they try to illegally exploit the waste industry and the environment. These criminal gangs need to know that we have them in our sights."

The JUWC is one of a number of initiatives in the Government's landmark Resources and Waste Strategy, which heavily focuses on tackling waste crime and significantly improving the levels of performance in the waste industry.

Chesterfield Special Cylinders Ltd was fined £700,000 this week for safety breaches after a 64-year-old worker was fatally wounded by shrapnel ejected from testing equipment.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that in June 2015, an employee was leak testing eight 1500 litre cylinders, by applying compressed air inside to create pressure, at the company's Sheffield site. Whilst in the process of venting the air through the test manifold, it catastrophically failed and fatally injured the employee.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that prior to installing the fittings, 1.5 litres of a mineral oil-based corrosion inhibitor had been placed into each of the cylinders. The incident occurred because the inhibitor contaminated the leak test manifold during venting of cylinders and was subjected to enough pressure inside the manifold to ignite and cause the test equipment to fail.

Chesterfield Special Cylinders Ltd was found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined £700,000, and full costs of £169,498.82.

HSE inspector Eddy Tarn commented: "This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to identify any additional risks that arise when work processes are adapted".

"Companies should accurately identify and control all potential hazards in the workplace and thereafter monitor performance through effective supervision".

A company that recycled wood has been fined, and its director banned from similar roles after investigators found it was storing nearly four times as much waste allowed by law.

In what the district judge called "blatantly criminal", the Environment Agency estimated Red Jon Ltd held 1,790 tonnes of wood at the site in Pyrton, near Watlington, whereas no more than 500 tonnes can be kept in one place in any 7-day period.

Oxford magistrates' court heard the mountains of wood posed a significant fire risk to the area, which included two schools, residential property, and a park.

Julia Leigh, senior environmental crime officer for the Environment Agency in Oxfordshire, said "waste crime can undermine legitimate businesses. The Environment Agency works closely with businesses to help them comply with the law. In cases like this, where individuals consistently operate illegally, we have no hesitation in prosecuting them, as we want to make sure waste crime doesn’t pay".

Red Jon Ltd was fined £15,000 and its director £860. Both were ordered to equally share costs of £28,000 and the director was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £86 and is now banned from being a company director.

A company providing a range of airline ground support services has been fined after an employee fell from a height of more than two meters.

Luton Magistrates' Court heard in December 2016, an employee of Menzies Aviation (UK) Limited was injured during the loading of luggage onto an aircraft, during an aircraft turnaround at London Luton Airport.

The employee fell through a gap in the railing at the top of a luggage belt-loader, whilst kneeling upon it to fasten cargo straps when the belt loader was struck by a passing vehicle. She fell 2.2m (7 feet) on to the tarmac below, which resulted in a loss of consciousness. She suffered a brain injury, fractures of the skull and cheekbone, and permanent hearing loss in her right ear.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Menzies Aviation (UK) Limited had foreseen the risk of a collision between the various vehicles operating in a congested space around the aircraft during a turnaround but had failed to implement measures to guard against the risk of driver error when maneuvering vehicles around aircraft.

The investigation also found the company was aware that belt-loaders had a gap in the railings between the aircraft and the barriers, but failed to put in place any meaningful measure to control the risk that someone might fall through.

Menzies Aviation (UK) Limited, of London Heathrow Airport, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, was fined £181,500 and ordered to pay costs of £21,043.

HSE inspector Emma Page said "airports are busy and complex workplaces where workers face many hazards, particularly from the movement and operation of aircraft and vehicles. Currently, accident rates in the industry are well above the national average for all industries. Companies should assess the risks to their own and others’ employees and put in place measures to control these risks".

"Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards".


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