Scotland's Low Emission Zones await enforcement

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) have been formally introduced in Scotland’s four main cities but will not be enforced for up to two years.

Plans agreed by local authorities in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen have now been approved by Scottish Ministers, as required under the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019.

However, there will be ‘local grace periods’ until enforcement commences:

  • In Glasgow, the LEZ already applies to buses. For other vehicle types, enforcement commences on 1 June 2023 (1 June 2024 for residents within the zone)
  • Edinburgh will commence enforcement on 1 June 2024
  • Dundee will commence enforcement on 30 May 2024
  • Aberdeen will commence enforcement on 1 June 2024

Scottish Government transport minister Jenny Gilruth said: ‘The introduction of Low Emission Zones is a truly significant public health moment for Scotland. Our air quality is generally good – but for too long air pollution has exceeded legal limits for health in our city centres as a consequence of unrestricted vehicle emissions.’

Angus Millar, Glasgow City Council's convener for transport,said: 'We will continue to raise awareness and understanding of Glasgow's LEZ ahead of full enforcement as well as encourage and support compliance through a range of initiatives and projects, including those that encourage a switch to active and more sustainable forms of travel and a reduced reliance on private car.'

City of Edinburgh Council transport and environment convener Scott Arthur said the city’s LEZ will reduce traffic-related nitrogen oxide emissions in the zone by a predicted 55%.

Unlike Clean Air Zones in England and London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone, which charge vehicles above set emissions levels, Scotland’s LEZs prohibit such vehicles, with a penalty charge payable by the registered keeper when a non-compliant vehicle enters the zone.

The minimum emission standards for vehicles permitted within the four LEZs are:

  • Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans (generally vehicles registered from January 2006)
  • Euro 6 for diesel cars and vans (generally vehicles registered from September 2015)

All four cities are planning schemes operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will enforce them using Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras.

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