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Glasgow City Council

Low Emission Zone (LEZ) - Q and A

Low Emission Zones set an environmental limit on certain road spaces, restricting access for the most polluting vehicles to improve air quality. This helps protect public health within towns and cities, making them more attractive places to be.

A penalty charge will be payable by the vehicle's registered keeper if a vehicle enters a LEZ and does not not meet the emission requirements.

Why is Glasgow introducing a Low Emission Zone?

In Glasgow city centre, levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide are being recorded at levels which do not meet statutory expectations - predominantly caused by road transport.

Polluted air can affect everyone, especially the most vulnerable - the very young, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Low Emission Zones can help reduce pollution from vehicle emissions, tackling both poor air quality and climate change.

What are the Benefits of a Low Emission Zone?

Health:

  • LEZs help to protect public health by improving air quality, as well as delivering various health, environmental and economic benefits.
  • Cleaner air can have health benefits for everyone, especially for old and very young people and for those with existing heart and lung conditions.
  • In 2010, the UK Government's Department of Health's Expert Advisory Committee, the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP), estimated that poor air quality shortens average life expectancy in Scotland by three to four months (compared to six to seven in England and Wales). Vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected (Health Protection Scotland, 2014).

Further information can be found here

Environment:

  • LEZs can help reduce pollution from vehicle emissions.
  • Schemes help to accelerate the uptake of lower emission vehicles which offer a wider geographical air quality benefit.
  • Instead of driving, LEZs encourage people to consider using public transport and active travel methods (walk, wheel, cycle) for everyday journeys

Economy

  • A Low Emission Zone can help improve air quality and protect public health within towns and cities making them more attractive places to live, work and to visit.

When does Glasgow's Low Emission Zone start?

Glasgow's LEZ will be introduced on a phased basis:

  • Phase 1 will be enforced from 31 December 2018 and will apply to local service buses only.
  • Phase 2 which will apply to all vehicles, was expected to commence on 31 December 2022 however given the new indicative timescales for LEZs in Scotland arising from the national COVID-19 response, this phase will be moved out to 2023 - with a more detailed timetable for enforcement to be published as soon as possible.

An additional grace period may also be available to those who live within Glasgow's Low Emission Zone - with further details to be confirmed once the design of Glasgow's LEZ is finalised.

Where is Glasgow's Low Emission Zone?

Details of the area covered by LEZ Phase 1 (which applies to local service buses only) can be found here

The exact area of LEZ Phase 2 will be determined following consultation, detailed transport modelling and to allow for the re-routing of vehicles wishing to avoid entering the zone.  It is generally expected to be however, the area known as the city centre which is that bounded by the M8, River Clyde and High Street/Saltmarket.

As the majority of Glasgow's air quality issues relate to the city centre, the greatest benefit to public health will be gained by enforcing a Low Emission Zone in this area first. Since many buses which travel through the LEZ will also journey through other parts of the city, an improvement in emissions is also expected furrther afield, beyond the LEZ area.

Indicative signage to raise awareness of the general zone boundary has been installed at key city centre locations. 

What are the permitted vehicle emission standards?

Glasgow's Low Emission Zone will apply to ALL vehicles except motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles.

The national standards for Low Emission Zones will be set when regulations are finalised. The proposed emission standards however are:

  • Euro 4 standard for petrol vehicles 
  • Euro 6 standard for diesel vehicles 
  • Euro VI standard for heavy duty diesel vehicles e.g. buses/coaches and HGVs 

Find out more about determining the Euro standard of a vehicle and whether it is likely to comply with the proposed LEZ emission standards here.

Are any vehicles exempt?

Set at national level by the Scottish Government for consistency across the country - some categories of vehicle will be exempt from Low Emission Zone requirements. These include:

  • Vehicles for disabled persons (including blue badge holders)
  • Police vehicles
  • Ambulance and emergency vehicles
  • Scottish Fire and Rescue
  • Her Majesty's Coastguard
  • National Crime Agency
  • Military vehicles
  • Historic vehicles
  • Showman's vehicles

In addition to LEZ exemptions set nationally through Regulations, the council may also have the power to issue 'time-limited' (temporary) exemptions in respect of specific vehicle types/categories. This could mean an exemption period of up to one year which would then require renewal if the exemption were to be continued. Further details will follow when available.

How will the LEZ operate/be enforced?

LEZs in Scotland will operate continuously - 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras will be used, which are linked to a national vehicle licencing database, to monitor vehicles driving in a Low Emission Zone. They will detect vehicles which do not comply with the minimum Euro emission standards.

What are the penalties?

Set at national level by the Scottish Government for consistency, the initial penalty charge for all non-compliant vehicles entering a Low Emission Zone in Scotland will be £60 - reduced by 50% if it is paid within 14 days.

A surcharge is also proposed whereby 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 buses and HGVs.

Where there are no further breaches of the rules detected within the 90 days following a previous violation, the surcharge rate is reset to the base tier of charge i.e. £60.

The Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 states that penalties will be used to support the air quality objectives of the Low Emission Zones.

Are you consulting on Glasgow's LEZ?

We are developing the final design of Glasgow's LEZ which is expected to go to statutory consultation in the summer of 2021 and will run for 12 weeks.

The scheme design which will include full details including its start date in 2023 and intended boundary, will be based on Glasgow's specific requirements and will follow on from the development of national LEZ regulations which cover core scheme aspects such as emissions standards, exemptions and penalties.

Previous Consultation:

To feed into the final LEZ proposed scheme design, the council ran its first LEZ consultation between Feb-March 2020, with responses invited on details including boundary options and grace periods.

Scott Porter Research independently reviewed and summarised the findings from the online respondents and also included qualitative findings from a stakeholder workshop hosted by the council on 10th March 2020.

word icon LEZ Public Consultation Report (April 2020) [2Mb]

pdf icon LEZ Public Consultation Report - Tables (April 2020) [1Mb]

The end of this online public conversation coincided with the first COVID-19 lockdown which affected some stakeholder groups' capacity to comment on behalf of members.  The statutory consultation (due Summer 2021) will assist to accommodate these challenges and allow another opportunity for views to be expressed. 

Is there any funding support for businesses and individuals?

The Scottish Government committed, through the 2018 Programme for Government, to help those who will have most difficulty preparing for the introduction of low emission zones in the four cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.

Full details of grant funding available can be found on the Low Emision Zones Scotland website

Will Glasgow's LEZ reduce congestion?:

Low Emission Zones are designed to protect public health by improving air quality through limiting the use of the most polluting vehicles within the zone. The introduction of Low Emission Zones will also encourage people to consider how they travel, with the potential for more people to choose public transport or active travel instead of driving.

What else is the council doing to reduce air pollution?

To complement the introduction of Glasgow's own LEZ, a wide range of work is underway in our city to improve air quality. This would include encouraging higher levels of active and sustainable travel, driving up standards in public transport and reducing reliance on private vehicles. 

In respect of our own fleet, a new strategy has set out proposals that all of the council's 2,000 vehicles should by emissions free by the end of 2029. It is intended that only electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, across all sizes and classifications, will be used to deliver crucial city services by 2030. 

Meantime, all council vehicles will meet the emission standards required by the LEZ.

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