Edinburgh Low Emission Zone: Here's what the LEZ will mean for you, including map and which cars are banned
and live on Freeview channel 276
Motorists in Edinburgh are beginning to consider what the city’s Low Emission Zone will mean for them when it starts to be enforced in June next year.
They can look at Glasgow and see that continuing rows about the equivalent ban there, which came into force a year ahead of the Capital’s. And a judicial review of the Glasgow scheme is taking place, which could impact on Edinburgh’s LEZ when the ruling is made. Dundee and Aberdeen are also due to enforce their LEZs from next year.
So here’s everything you need to know about what is planned in Edinburgh.
Where is the Low Emission Zone?
The LEZ covers a 1.2 square mile area of the city centre – it stretches from Queen Street in the New Town to Melville Drive on the other side of the Meadows and from Palmerston Place at the west end to Abbeyhill in the east, but not including these streets.
There had been calls for a city-wide LEZ which would have seen buses and HGVs which failed to meet the emission standards banned from the whole area. Cars which fell short of the required level would still have been allowed except in the city-centre zone, but that idea was thrown out. Changes are planned to some road junctions, including Tollcross and Morrison Street, to allow traffic to move around the city centre without having to enter the LEZ.
What vehicles are banned?
The LEZ will use strict national and international emission standards to exclude the vehicles which cause the worst pollution from entering the designated area.
An estimated 20,000 vehicles in and around the Capital will be affected. Those which will be covered by the ban are diesel cars and vans registered before September 2015 and petrol cars and vans registered before January 2006. Petrol and diesel taxis and private hire vehicles which do not meet Euro 6 emission standards will be banned from the LEZ. And HGVs, buses and coaches that fail to meet the Euro 6 standards – generally vehicles registered before January 2013 – will not be allowed in either. Motorcycles and mopeds are not affected.
The council says more than half of diesel cars and a third of light goods vehicles, including vans, currently travelling on the main routes into Edinburgh don’t comply with the requirements of the LEZ.
When does the Low Emission Zone start in Edinburgh?
The Capital’s LEZ was agreed by the council on March 31, 2022, but the plan included a two-year grace period to allow people to prepare. The LEZ was approved by the Scottish Government on May 19, 2022, and was formally introduced on May 31, 2022.
But the grace period means that although the LEZ officially exists already, there is no enforcement of it. That will begin on June 1, 2024. Automatic number plate recognition cameras will be used to check vehicles inside the zone are entitled to be there. And the LEZ will operate continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Why is a Low Emission Zone being introduced?
It’s all about reducing harmful emissions. The city council says Edinburgh has made good progress in reducing levels of air pollution, but there are still areas where certain pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), are higher than the legal standard. Road traffic is the main source of these emissions which are damaging public health and contributing to climate change.
Banning the most polluting vehicles is expected to reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides from vehicles by up to 50 per cent within the LEZ. But, according to the council’s modelling, a city-centre LEZ will reduce harmful emissions across the whole city, not just within the zone. Cutting air pollution is especially important for vulnerable people, children, older folk and those with underlying health conditions.
What are the penalties?
Fines for vehicles that enter the zone when they do not meet the standard are set at £60, but that is halved if the fine is paid within 30 days. However, if motorists do it again within a 90-day period, the penalty roughly doubles each time – up to a maximum of £480 for cars and light commercial vehicles and £960 for heavy duty vehicles.
Are there exemptions?
Some vehicles will be allowed into the LEZ, whether they meet the standards or not. These include emergency vehicles; vehicles for people with disabilities, including people who have blue badges; military vehicles; historic vehicles; and showman’s vehicles. These are national exemptions, set out in the LEZ legislation, and so apply across all of Scotland's LEZs, to make the rules consistent.
Glasgow’s LEZ scheme allows residents who live inside the zone or very close to it to apply for a one-year exemption until June 1, 2024. Edinburgh is not planning a one-year exemption for residents. Taxi drivers in Glasgow can also apply for a time-limited exemption of one year under certain criteria if they are having problems retro-fitting their vehicles to make them comply. Edinburgh’s scheme does not include that provision.