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Low carbon travel

Guide to low emission zones

Location notice

Please note that this page contains information and links most relevant for people living in Scotland.

What are low emission zones?

Low emission zones are a type of Vehicle Access Regulation Scheme that restricts access to an area by the most polluting vehicles. The Scottish Government is introducing low emission zones in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen between February and May 2022 to improve air quality.

Improving air quality is more important than ever. The air we breathe contains emissions from motor vehicles, industry and household fuels. Air pollution affects 91% of the global population and is most concentrated in urban areas. Exposure to polluted air contributes to health conditions, including heart and respiratory diseases, and some cancers.

Low emission zones set criteria based on Euro emission standards for vehicles. In future, vehicles that do not meet the minimum standard will face a penalty if they enter a low emission zone. If you live or operate a business in a planned low emission zone, and your current vehicle is not compliant, you may be entitled to some support. Please see the eligibility criteria below.

Current standards set by low emission zones

Fuel and categoryMinimum standard
Petrol - all typesEuro 4/IV - generally vehicles registered in or after 2006*
Diesel - all typesEuro 6/VI - generally vehicles registered in or after 2016*
Motorcycles Euro 3 - generally vehicles registered in or after 2007*
Electric vehiclesMost plug-in vehicles**

*You can use the Vehicle Checker to see whether your vehicle would be allowed to enter a zone. You can also contact your vehicle manufacturer for this information.

**Plug-in vehicles include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), extended-range electric vehicles (E-REVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Non plug-in or mild hybrids are considered under the petrol or diesel category.

Benefits of low emission zones

The goal of low emission zones is to improve air quality by restricting use of heavily polluting vehicles. This will:

  • protect public health by improving air quality. The NHS considers air pollution the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, attributing 28,000-36,000 deaths to air pollution each year
  • encourage the use of shared transport and active travel options. Active travel measures such as walking, wheeling or cycling are the most sustainable travel methods, increasing fitness and overall health while producing zero emissions
  • accelerate the adoption of lower emission vehicles such as electric vehicles. The Scottish Government has set a commitment to phase out sales of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032

Please visit the Low Emission Zones Scotland website for more information.

What funding is available?

Please see below an overview of available grants administered by Energy Saving Trust to help individuals and organisations prepare for the introduction of low emission zones. All schemes are funded by Transport Scotland:

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria for the Low Emission Zone Support Fund or Retrofit Fund, you may be interested in the following options to purchase an ebike or an electric vehicle:

Households and individuals can contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 for advice about travelling sustainably.

Businesses can contact our sustainable transport coordinators via our online business form for advice about making their fleet more efficient.

Energy Saving Trust is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The funds and loans are subject to availability and terms and conditions apply.