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06 December 2017

Scottish Government must launch low emission vehicle fund says FSB

Reference number: SPUR0612

- Phased approach and national standards for low emission zones necessary

A fund to help smaller firms upgrade older vehicles should be introduced at next week’s Scottish Government budget, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Four low emission zones will be opened in Scotland’s four largest cities over the next two years – with a Glasgow zone to be launched in the next 12 months. Fines will be issued to individuals and organisations who enter these zones in vehicles that don’t meet designated emission standards. Some motoring groups have warned that three quarters of Scottish diesel vehicles could fall foul of the new rules, if the strictest standards are adopted.

Given this move was only announced in October 2017, FSB has warned in a submission to Ministers that it is unreasonable to expect businesses to upgrade their vehicles so quickly without financial help. The small business campaign group argues a fund must be developed to subsidise smaller firms looking to upgrade their vehicles – and that this fund could be topped-up through income from fines. 

On Thursday (7 December), Transport Minister Humza Yousaf will make a Ministerial statement in the Scottish Parliament on low emission zones.

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Lots of Scottish city centre firms would agree that action must be taken to improve air quality. But many smaller businesses don’t have large cash reserves and they can’t buy a brand new van at the drop of a hat.

“Therefore, if we’re to ensure that urban Scotland continues to be a great place to do business, then financial help should be offered to firms looking to transition to lower emission vehicles.”

The FSB also argue for national emission zone standards to ensure that, for example, a vehicle that is compliant in Glasgow would also be compliant in Edinburgh. The small business campaign group also warns that the zones should be phased-in over a period of four years to give businesses and other city centre operators the chance to prepare and adapt.

Andy Willox said: “Most UK and European low emission zones are phased in over a four year period – giving businesses and locals the time to plan and adapt. The Scottish Government must adopt these sorts of sensible lead-in times.

“Further it would not make sense to have different vehicle standards in different Scottish cities. A Dundee-based delivery driver shouldn’t face fines in Glasgow or Edinburgh, if his vehicle passes the test at home.”

At least 80,000 businesses are based in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The vast majority of Scottish smaller businesses are reliant on their vehicles – according to FSB figures. Nine in ten Scottish businesses say that a car is important to their operations, with two thirds of firms saying the same about vans and half highlighting their dependence on lorries.