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Transport (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th October 2019.

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Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

I am aware that we have heard a lot of views during stages 1 and 2 on proposed low-emission zone exemptions. Let me be very clear: I absolutely accept that there will have to be exemptions from low-emission zones, and they will be captured in secondary legislation.

At stage 1, we stated that the emergency services and blue badge holders are high in our consideration. At stage 2, a number of amendments proposed exemptions in niche areas: in particular, Richard Lyle lodged an amendment that was agreed to relating to transportation equipment for funfairs. That has resulted in an anomaly in the bill, because the committee did not agree to the related substantive amendment.

In order to rectify the situation, I have agreed with Richard Lyle that an exemption from low-emission zones for showmen’s vehicles will be introduced through secondary legislation. Richard Lyle is content with that approach. As such, I have lodged amendment 43, which will remove section 1(1)(c), which introduced a low-emission zone exemption for funfair vehicles.

More generally, in respect of amendments 136 and 44, the topic of national exemptions for LEZs needs careful thought and consideration in conjunction with interested parties that have specialist knowledge. My officials are therefore engaging with key stakeholders on proposed regulations on LEZ exemptions. That will include discussions with the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, and with the emergency services and associated organisations including the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Her Majesty’s Coastguard.

I can, however, provide some clarity for Murdo Fraser and Jamie Greene. The specific issue of an exemption for historic vehicles and the emergency services are among the key topics for consideration in development of regulations; I am strongly minded to include such exemptions. It is worth noting that an exemption for historic vehicles has been granted for the English clean-air zone areas, but emergency services have not been exempted from the London ultra-low-emission zone. However, we need to give careful consideration to those matters before drafting the regulations.

I urge members to support my amendment 43 and to reject amendments 136 and 44.