Labour has launched a bid to toughen up legislation on Low Emissions Zones, and is challenging the First Minister to “put words into action”.
To mark World Environment Day, Labour MSPs have tabled amendments to the Transport Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Government is already committed to introducing LEZs in Scotland’s four biggest cities between 2018 and 2020.
The first of these was created in Glasgow at the end of last year, with Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen on course to bring in their own zones by 2020.
Labour said its amendments would force councils to introduce LEZs in areas with illegally high levels of pollution, and would also mean ministers would have to give their approval when authorities plan the maximum possible grace period ahead of their introduction.
Transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: “Nicola Sturgeon said the climate crisis would mean speeding up action to deliver net-zero emissions. Well this is an opportunity for the First Minister to put words into action.
“Labour’s amendments to the Transport Bill will give councils greater flexibility to get on with delivering LEZs and taking the action needed to tackle air pollution which kills 2,500 people each year in Scotland.”
Environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish stated: “Scottish Labour are taking real steps to amend the Transport Bill to ensure that our Low Emission Zones make rapid progress towards reducing air pollution in our towns and cities.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland’s Low Emission Zones protect public health and improve air quality by allowing access to only the cleanest vehicles.
“Through the Transport (Scotland) Bill we are empowering local authorities with the flexible means to establish their own Low Emission Zones in a way which can respond to their specific air quality needs.
“Additionally, we provide a range of incentives to help businesses make the switch to ultra-low emission vehicles and e-bikes through Energy Saving Trust.”