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Blog Post 13 June 2022 Updated 7 November 2023

A quick guide to Scotland’s low emission zones

With a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles due to come into effect from 2035, Scottish local authorities are trying to do their bit to promote clean air in towns and cities across the country.

On 1 June 2022, Scotland’s four largest cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee – introduced low emission zones (LEZs) to address the higher levels of pollution in these urban areas.

We answer some key questions about the new low emission zones in this handy guide.

What are low emission zones?

Low emission zones are set areas where access to the most polluting vehicles is restricted to combat poor local air quality. Vehicles that do not meet the emissions standards set for a LEZ will not be allowed to enter the zone. Any non-compliant vehicle that enters a zone will have to pay a penalty charge.

The minimum criteria for vehicles to access a low emission zone Scotland are:

Vehicle typeStandard and registration date
Petrol cars and vansEuro 4 (generally vehicles registered from 2006)
Diesel cars and vansEuro 6 (generally vehicles registered from September 2015)
Buses, coaches and HGVsEuro 6 (generally vehicles registered from January 2013)

Please note that the dates listed in the table above are only indicative – you should check to confirm with your vehicle manual or the manufacturer. Use this online vehicle checker to find out whether your vehicle is compliant with LEZ restrictions.

What are the benefits of low emission zones?

LEZs can help reduce pollution from vehicle emissions, tackling both poor air quality and climate change. Low emission zones bring several health, environmental and economic benefits, including:

  • Protecting public health by improving air quality, which has benefits for everyone and especially those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions.
  • Encouraging people to choose active travel and public transport alternatives, as well as the transition to electric vehicles.
  • Improving worker productivity thanks to cleaner air, and making city and town centres more attractive places to work.
green light for pedestrians and cycles

Where are Scotland’s LEZs?

Scotland’s four largest cities – Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow – have now introduced new or expanded existing low emission zones. 

The country’s first low emission zone came into effect in Glasgow city centre at the end of 2018 to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide and other air pollutants. 

Glasgow’s LEZ is now being enforced so all vehicles entering the city centre zone must meet the required emission standards or face penalty fines. Glasgow City Council may offer time-limited exemptions for some non-compliant vehicles, however, these are only being granted in exceptional circumstances. You can find out more about exemptions on the council website.

Local grace periods in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen are still in effect, with LEZ enforcement in Edinburgh and Aberdeen to take effect from 1 June 2024, and just a few days earlier in Dundee, from 30 May 2024. 

Is there support to switch to a low emission vehicle?

The Scottish Government offers funding for eligible households and businesses based in and around one of Scotland’s low emission zones, with grants administered by Energy Saving Trust.

For households

If you are a low-income household living within a 20km radius of a low emission zone, you may be eligible for a £2,000 grant towards the disposal of a non-compliant vehicle – as well as up to £1,000 towards more sustainable travel modes. Find out more about the support here.

For businesses

Micro businesses and sole traders may also be eligible for a £2,000 grant under the Low Emission Zone Support Fund for businesses, as well as up to £1,000 towards the purchase of a cargo or electric cargo bike.

Those micro businesses operating specialist vehicles may be interested in the Low Emission Zone Retrofit Fund, which offers up to 70% funding towards the installation of retrofit solutions to make vehicles LEZ compliant based on emission standards.

For more information, please visit the low emission zones website.

Last updated: 7 November 2023