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Blog Post 22 September 2021

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 2030, Scottish local authorities are trying to do their bit to promote clean air in towns and cities across the country.

Ahead of the ban, the Scottish Government has committed to introducing low emission zones (LEZs) in Scotland’s four largest cities to address the higher levels of pollution in these urban areas in 2022.

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 restricting in order 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 proposed 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 alternative, 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 proposed LEZs?

Scotland’s four largest cities – Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow – are planning to introduce new or expand existing low emission zones. Each city is conducting a local consultation into the proposed zones, with future guidance expected at the end of each consultation period.

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. Currently, the LEZ applies to local service buses only, however from 1 June 2023, all vehicles entering the city centre zone must meet the required emission standards or face penalty fines.

You can find more information on the individual LEZ proposals below:

Is there support to switch to a lower or zero emission vehicle?

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

If you live within a 20km radius of a planned LEZ and are in receipt of specific means-tested benefits, you may be eligible for a £2,000 grant towards the disposal of a non-compliant vehicle. Find out more about the support here.

Micro businesses and sole traders may also be eligible for a £2,500 grant under the Low Emission Zone Support Fund for businesses. Those micro businesses operating specialist vehicles may be interested in the Low Emission Zone Retrofit Fund, which offers up to 80% funding towards the installation of retrofit solutions to make your vehicle LEZ compliant based on emission standards.

Bus operators can also get help to cover the financial costs associated with engine and exhaust retrofitting under the Bus Emissions Abatement Retrofit (BEAR) programme.

Last updated: 10 September 2021