How Low Emission Zones work
Low Emission Zones (LEZs) stop the most polluting vehicles entering an area, which improves air quality and helps to protect public health.
LEZs operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round (including all Public Holidays such as Christmas Day and Boxing Day).
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras are linked to local and national vehicle licencing databases, to monitor all vehicles driving in a LEZ. They will detect vehicles which do not comply with the emission standards.
A vehicle may only drive within a LEZ if it meets the specified emission standards.
LEZ emission standards are specified with regards to the Euro emission standards, and are as follows:
- Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans
- Euro 6 for diesel cars and vans
- Euro VI for buses, coaches and HGVs
Motorbikes and mopeds are not included in the current LEZ schemes and no restrictions will apply.
You can use our Vehicle Checker to check to see if your vehicle can drive within a LEZ.
If a vehicle does not meet the specified emission standards, then the owner of that vehicle would be subject to a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) should they drive it within a LEZ.
The initial penalty charge for all non-compliant vehicles is set at £60, reduced by 50% if it is paid within 14 days.
The penalty amount doubles with each subsequent breach of the rules detected in the same LEZ. The penalty charges are capped at £480 for cars and light goods vehicles and £960 for minibuses, buses, coaches and HGVs.
Where there are no further breaches of the rules detected within the 90 days following a previous violation, the rate is reset to the base tier of charge i.e. £60.
PCNs will be issued to the registered keeper of the vehicle by the enforcing local authority, and will outline information on payment and appeals.
There are limited categories of vehicles which are nationally exempt from LEZ requirements. These are outlined below:
Vehicles for disabled persons
There are several exemptions which cover vehicles being used for the purposes of disabled persons, as outlined in the following circumstances:
- A vehicle registered with a 'disabled' or 'disabled passenger vehicles' tax class.
- A vehicle receiving a reduction in annual rate of vehicle excise duty because the vehicle is being used by a disabled person in receipt of personal independence payment at the standard rate.
- Blue Badge holders
If the vehicle receives a disabled vehicle/disabled passenger vehicle tax class exemption, you do not need to register it for an exemption. This will be automatically detected by the local authority enforcement systems.
Blue Badge Holders
The Blue Badge holder exemption covers:
- A vehicle being driven by any person who is in receipt of a blue badge.
- A passenger in the vehicle who has been issued with a blue badge.
- A vehicle is being driven with a blue badge which has been issued to an organisation.
If you are eligible for a Blue Badge holder exemption, you will need to register on or before the day of travelling. Please see here for further information.
There are exemptions for emergency service vehicles which cover vehicles being driven by any person who is:
- Undertaking their duty as a constable
- Providing a response to an emergency at the request of the Scottish Ambulance Service Board
- Exercising the functions of the Scottish Ambulance Service Board, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Her Majesty's Coastguard or the National Crime Agency
This exemption covers vehicles being used for naval, military or air force purposes.
Vehicles of Historic Interest
There is an exemption for vehicles of historic interest. The criteria for this exemption is as follows:
- The vehicle was manufactured, or registered under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994, for the first time at least 30 years ago
- The vehicle is no longer in production
- The vehicle has been historically preserved or maintained in its original state and has not undergone substantial changes in the technical characteristics of its main components.
If your vehicle meets the above criteria, you do not need to register for an exemption. This will be automatically detected by the local authority enforcement systems.
This exemption applies to vehicles described as either “showman’s goods vehicle” or “showman’s vehicle” according to Section 62(1) of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994. These are highly specialised vehicles used for the purposes of travelling showmen, where the vehicle is used during the performance, used for the purpose of providing the performance or used for carrying performance equipment.
If your vehicle meets the above criteria for a Showman vehicle, please contact the relevant local authority to register for an exemption.
Each local authority has the autonomy to choose local time-limited exemptions appropriate for the individual circumstances of their cities. For further information on local time-limited exemptions please contact the relevant local authority, as each LEZ may have different local exemptions.