There is bright and shiny new sign greeting visitors to Glasgow City Centre.

However, the sign is not welcoming them to the city, or pointing out landmarks - it is telling them that they are entering Scotland’s first ever Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

The zone will be in force from today (Monday), but what the new sign doesn’t explain is what exactly that means.

For now, it only involves buses and means that 20 per cent of them passing thorough the city centre must meet European emission standards.

This will then increase year on year until all buses, and all other vehicles entering the zone, meet the low emission levels in 2022.

Glasgow City Council say the plan is a “manageable, yet robust” approach to reducing pollution, but environmental campaigners claim the zone’s first year “won’t achieve any significant change for air quality”.

Ahead of the launch of the LEZ, The Herald spoke to people across the city to find out their views.

Some had not heard about the scheme, while it prompted mixed reactions from others.

David Norris, 39, from Larbert, who works in the city, said he was concerned about the impact of pollution on his health each day and was pleased that officials are taking action.

“I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “I’m glad they’re doing something to tackle it.”

Asked if he was happy with the timescale proposed, he added: “I think you need to find a balance, you can’t just come in with a really high target that’s unachievable and unrealistic and, to me, 20 per cent is a good starting point that we can then build on.”

Retired teacher Mary Queen, 70, who lives in the Southside of the city, agreed, describing the council plans as “reasonable”.

She added: “It affects public health and our quality of life so it’s good that the council is trying to improve things.”

However, Glasgow resident Craig Cameron, 54, argued that all vehicles should be included in the scheme now.

The NHS administrator said: “I just assumed that a low emission zone would mean that all vehicles would need to have low emissions.

“I think if we’re going to have this then it should include cars and lorries too to encourage people to buy greener vehicles.”

The LEZ scheme will be enforced through the use of automatic number place recognition cameras, with penalty notices being issued to non-compliant vehicles.

The council decided to introduce the zone due to the harmful levels of toxic fumes in Glasgow which are being recorded at levels above statutory expectations.

This impacts negatively on public health, with the young and the elderly the worst hit.

According to Friends of the Earth Scotland, the pollution causes around 300 premature deaths each year.

Student nurse Izzy Monteith called for the public to be made more aware of the impact on health.

The 23-year-old, who lives in Glasgow, said: “I had no idea that it caused such a big issue for public health, I thought it was more of an environmental issue, so I think there needs to be more awareness of the impact it’s having on our health.”

Air pollution campaigner for FoE Scotland, Gavin Thomson said: “Unfortunately, the weak terms of this Low Emission Zone - only applying to 1 in 5 buses - won’t achieve any significant change for air quality.

“This ‘No Ambition Zone’ means fumes from transport in the centre of Glasgow will carry on poisoning people’s lungs for many more years.”

He added that Glasgow risks lagging behind other European cities unless it speeds up its plans.

A council spokeswoman said: “This pragmatic and phased approach will ensure a manageable, yet robust timetable for implementation that looks at the city’s overall needs to ensure it won’t have a detrimental impact on people’s lives, businesses and the vitality of the city centre.

“Other cities across Europe adopted similar lead in times for their low-emission zones, so it’s seen as a reasonable amount of time to get the message out to businesses and residents so they are informed and can prepare.”