Low emission zones in city centres will see many older vehicles banned

Drivers are warned that vehicles that fail to meet emission standards will not be able to drive within the areas.

Low emission zones in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen will see many older vehicles banned from area iStock

Low emission zones (LEZs) have begun in four cities around Scotland in a bid to protect public health and improve air quality.

The new scheme means many older vehicles which do not meet the minimum emissions standards will be banned from city centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.

With the shape and scopes of each city’s LEZ now agreed, local grace periods are now in place, with enforcement due to begin on different dates.

In Glasgow, the LEZ is already in place for buses and will apply to other vehicles from June 1, 2023, with the grace period for residents extended to June 1, 2024.

In Edinburgh and Aberdeen, enforcement will begin on June 1, 2024.

In Dundee, enforcement begins on May 30, 2024.

The Low Emissions Zone covers almost the entirety of Glasgow’s city centre.

Vehicles that do not meet the emission standards set for a LEZ will not be able to drive within the zone.

A penalty charge of £60 will be payable by the registered keeper of a vehicle when a non-compliant vehicle enters the LEZ, which will be halved to £30 if paid early.

Petrol cars and vans will need to have engines at the Euro 4 standard, which generally applies to vehicles registered after 2006.

Diesel-powered cars and vans will need to be at the Euro 6 standard, mainly applying to vehicles registered after 2015.

A number of vehicles are exempt from LEZ requirements, including emergency service vehicles and any vehicle driven by a blue badge holder. 

It is hoped that the introduction of LEZs will encourage people to think about leaving the car at home and to consider public transport or active travel.

Welcoming the introduction, the Scottish Government’s minister for transport Jenny Gilruth said: “The introduction of LEZs 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.

“We have a moral responsibility to act. Air pollution often disproportionally impacts those with the least in our society. It causes the most damage to the youngest, the oldest and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

“LEZs are the biggest change we’ve ever seen in how vehicles will access our cities – and they need to be, in order to best protect public health and improve air quality.

“With a year to go until the earliest point of enforcement in Glasgow and two years to go until enforcement in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, I encourage everyone to visit www.lowemissionzones.scot to find out more about the schemes, including the Scottish Government funding on offer.”

Councillor Scott Arthur, transport and environment convener for Edinburgh Council said: “By introducing an LEZ, Edinburgh is joining cities right across the UK in working towards a healthier environment and a better quality of life for everyone. We all have the right to breathe clean air and it’s our responsibility to tackle air pollution to protect the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of society.

“The LEZ will restrict the most polluting vehicles from entering the boundary, reducing harmful traffic-related nitrogen oxide emissions by a predicted 55% in the zone.

“The LEZ is one of a number of tools to reduce harmful emissions and is being delivered alongside a range of projects to support sustainable travel, including Edinburgh city centre transformation, trams to Newhaven and city centre west to east link.

“Together, these will help achieve our vision of a clean, green and net zero European Capital.”

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