What is Edinburgh's new low emission zone (LEZ) and what will it mean for car owners?

Edinburgh councillors will decide next week whether to press ahead with a city-centre “low emission zone” to curb harmful traffic emissions – here’s how you would be affected by the plans.

By Alastair Dalton
Friday, 11th June 2021, 5:30 pm
Updated Friday, 11th June 2021, 6:01 pm

Why is the LEZ being introduced?

To cut harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions from traffic which particularly affect children, elderly people and those with heart and lung conditions.

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

South Bridge in Edinburgh's Old Town would be part of the low emission zone. Picture: Lisa Ferguson south bridge, edinburgh

What type of vehicles would the restrictions apply to?

All motor vehicles except motorcycles and mopeds.

Which vehicles would be permitted in the LEZ?

Petrol cars and vans registered since January 2006, which have the latest “Euro 4” engines

The proposed low emission zone in Edinburgh city centre. Picture: City of Edinburgh Council

Diesel cars and vans registered since September 2015, which have the latest “Euro 6” engines

Buses, coaches and lorries with Euro VI engines.

What area does the LEZ cover?

The city centre, including the Old Town and original New Town.

The boundaries (which are not included in the LEZ) are Queen Street, York Place, Greenside Row, Regent Road, Abbeymount, Abbeyhill, Horse Wynd, Queen’s Drive, Holyrood Gait, Holyrood Road, Pleasance, St Leonard’s Street, Dalkeith Road, East Preston Street, West Preston Street, Summerhall Place, Summerhall Square, Summerhall Crescent, Melville Drive, Brougham Place, Brougham Street, Earl Grey Street, Morrison Street, Dewar Place, Torphichen Street, Palmerston Place, Chester Street, Drumsheugh Gardens, Randolph Crescent, Great Stuart Street, Ainslie Place and St Colme Street.

When would it start?

Spring 2022, with a two-year grace period until enforcement starts in spring 2024

What would be the fines for non-compliance?

£60, but £30 if paid within 30 days.

The penalty would roughly double for subsequent contraventions within a 90-day period up to £420 for cars and vans and £900 for lorries.

Non-compliant vehicles would be detected by cameras.

How many of the city's vehicles would be non-compliant?

Around 16,000 diesel cars, or 22 per cent of the total, the council said.

Up to 24 per cent of lorries, 40 per cent of buses and coaches, and 52 per cent of vans, according to council traffic surveys in February 2020.

The city council said Lothian the city’s main bus operator, was committed to making all its vehicles compliant by the end of this year.

Why won’t the LEZ cover the whole city?

The council said this would have limited impact.

Weren’t LEZs supposed to have been introduced last year?

They were delayed by the Covid crisis

What happens next?

The council’s transport and environment committee is due to decide whether to proceed with the scheme on Thursday June 17.

If it is approved, a 12-week public consultation would follow.

The results would be reported to the committee in the autumn before a statutory process to introduce the LEZ begins to implement the scheme in spring 2022.

Are other Scottish cities introducing LEZs?

Yes – Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, also by 2022, with same vehicle engine types.

Glasgow’s is the only LEZ already in force, where non-compliant buses have been progressively prohibited from the city centre since 2018.

All other non-compliant vehicles will be barred from June 2022, with a year-long grace period before enforcement from June 2023, and a year later for residents.

How will the used car market be affected?

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said measures to scrap older vehicles faster were important, but significant support was required to prevent “undermining the market”.

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