A PROBE into the possibility of congestion charging in Glasgow is being backed by officials as the city finalises its first low emissions zone to tackle a "pollution crisis".

Council documents confirm it is exploring road user charging in Glasgow and a report looking into the idea is being recommended to be completed within nine months.

Some councillors have supported an implementation of a scheme,  following consultation, by December 31, 2020.

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It comes as a letter to Glasgow City Council signed by nine health and environmental campaign groups and over 350 members of the public says that "road user charging" should be introduced as part of the low emissions scheme.

It has been 15 years since London’s congestion charge was introduced by the city’s first mayor, Ken Livingstone who hoped it would reduce congestion, radically improve bus services, make journey times more consistent for drivers and increase efficiency for those distributing goods and services throughout the city.

HeraldScotland:

Key measures show it has been a success. In 2006, Transport for London (TfL) reported that the charge reduced traffic by 15 per cent and congestion – that is, the extra time a trip would take because of traffic – by 30 per cent.

The charge covers a 21 km² area in London. Those that enter the zone between 7am and 6pm on a weekday pay a flat daily rate which has risen gradually from £5 in 2003 to £11.50 now..

Residents receive a 90 per cent discount and registered disabled people can travel for free. Emergency services, motorcycles, taxis and minicabs are exempt.

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Councillors will on Thursday be asked to sanction a report investigating the possibility of road user charging which is expected to be produced within the next nine months.

The call for improvements to the low emissions zone have been signed by Friends of the Earth Scotland, World Wide Fund for Nature, Global Justice Now, British Lung Foundation, Scottish Environment Link, GoBike, Get Glasgow Moving and We Are Cycling UK.

The letter says: "We are supportive of road user charging, subject to it being part of an integrated, fair, green transport strategy, and would support a decision at the city administration committee to refer road user charging to go to the environment committee for a detailed assessment of options within a year."

Cars which are more than 12 years old with exhaust emissions which do not meet strict standards will be banned from Glasgow city centre in four years time, under the plans.

HeraldScotland:

The emissions zone is due to be phased in for buses from December 31 this year until 2022 from then the standards will apply to all vehicles, including private cars.

The Scottish government vowed to deliver low emission zones in four Scottish cities by 2020.

But the campaigners' letter demands "greater ambition" and for all vehicles to be compliant by April 2021.

And it wants flexibility built into provisions for phasing out dirty buses such that they can be removed "as quickly as possible".

Air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland Emilia Hanna said: “The people of Glasgow need an ambitious, effective Low Emission Zone to cut toxic air pollution as soon as possible, but once again the council has gone backwards to a plan for a ‘No Ambition Zone’.

“In March, hundreds of people protested Glasgow City Council’s draft proposals and in response the plans were slightly improved... But the current version seeks to undo the good work, with restrictions on dirty cars, vans, taxis and lorries only kicking in at the end of December 2022, twelve years after the legal deadline for clean air. The plans will condemn people in city to have illegal levels of air pollution for years to come.

"The councillors must show their intention to phase out dirty buses in the city centre more quickly than currently planned, and must stick with the proposal... that the Zone come into force against all vehicles by April 2021."

Glasgow City Council's city administration committee is due to discuss the plans on Thursday and is being asked in a report by Anna Richardson, the city convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, to agree to the congestion charging report and that the zone be extended to all vehicles by December 2022.

Last October, World Health Organisation testing found that Glasgow was one of the most polluted areas in the UK, with poorer air quality than London.