About Low Emission Zones

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Low Emission Zones (LEZs) to improve air quality are to be introduced across Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow between February 2022 and May 2022.

Plans to implement LEZs were temporarily paused due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but work has now restarted.

LEZs are key to improving air quality, protecting public health and supporting Scotland’s wider climate change ambitions by encouraging more sustainable transport options.

With an indicative timeline now established, planning continues at a local authority level and the Scottish Government will continue to develop regulations and funding.

What are Low Emission Zones?

Low Emission Zones set an environmental limit on certain road spaces, restricting access for the most polluting vehicles to improve air quality. This helps protect public health within our towns and cities, making them more attractive places in which to live, work and to visit.

Vehicles that do not meet the emission standards set for a Low Emission Zone will not be able to enter the zone. A penalty charge will be payable by the vehicle’s registered keeper when a non-compliant vehicle enters the LEZ.

Low Emission Zones were first introduced in Sweden in 1996 and there are now over 250 Low Emission Zones across 15 European countries, either planned or in operation.

They help protect public health by improving air quality, although outcomes depend on size of the Low Emission Zone, vehicle scope, accurate traffic data and local weather.

Vehicle access to a Low Emission Zone is usually based on Euro emission engine classification standards which provide the emission rating of a vehicle. This also takes account of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate Matter emissions (PM).

Details of the geographic extent, scope, timescales for implementation and enforcement of Low Emission Zones will be determined by local authorities as part of the design and consultation process. Plans for the design and implementation of Low Emission Zones are being reviewed in tandem with the COVID-19 recovery plans.

Why do we need Low Emission Zones?

Scotland’s air quality is generally good, but several pollution hotspots remain – predominantly caused by road transport.

Hotspots are found in urban locations where polluted air can affect everyone, especially the most vulnerable – the very young, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Low Emission Zones can help reduce pollution from vehicle emissions, tackling both poor air quality and climate change.

What are the benefits of Low Emission Zones?

Health:

  • help to protect public health by improving air quality, as well as delivering various health, environmental and economic benefits.
  • cleaner air can have health benefits for everyone, especially for old and very young people and for those with existing heart and lung conditions.
  • in 2010, the UK Government’s Department of Health’s Expert Advisory Committee, the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP), estimated that poor air quality shortens average life expectancy in Scotland by three to four months (compared to six to seven in England and Wales). Vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected (Health Protection Scotland, 2014).

Further information can be found at: environment.gov.scot/our-environment/air/air-quality-and-health

Environment:

  • can help reduce pollution from vehicle emissions.
  • help to accelerate the uptake of lower emission vehicles – and cleaner vehicles also benefit all areas they travel through – not just the Low Emission Zone.
  • encourage people to consider using public transport and active travel methods instead of driving.

Economy

  • can help improve air quality and protect public health within towns and cities. This makes them more attractive places to live, work and to visit.