Low Emission Zones in Scotland: Compete Guide

May 17, 2024 by

If you’re planning to drive into Scotland’s major cities you need to be aware that their Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are about to enforce fines for cars that don’t comply with their rules – and the first thing you could know about it is when the penalty charge drops through your letterbox.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the Scotland’s Low Emission Zones in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.

Low Emission Zones were introduced in 2022 to reduce pollution and improve air quality in Scotland’s biggest cities. After a grace period of two years, fines for non-compliant cars will be issued in Dundee from 30 May. And from 1 June fines for driving non-compliant cars into Aberdeen and Edinburgh LEZs will be enforced.

Glasgow has already been enforcing its LEZ to visitors since June 2023, but the grace period for residents is coming to an end and they also have to start paying from 1 June 2024.

Unlike Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ) in England, Scotland does not give you the option to pay to drive a non-compliant car into a LEZ. (Read UK Low Emission Zones for UK-wide advice)

If you aren’t aware that your car is not compliant and you drive into a LEZ in Scotland, you won’t find out until you receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). And the charges could quickly rack up.

Fines start at £60 for the first incident but if you don’t pay it quickly, they can soon double up to a maximum of £480 for cars and vans – if your vehicle gets a fourth PCN for entering the same LEZ within 90 days.

The PCN fines for non-compliant minibuses, coaches and HGVs also start at £60 and double for repeat offences with the same vehicle in the same LEZ, up to a total of £960 if a fifth PCN is issued within 90 days of the first breach.

All revenue raised from PCNs is going to be used towards running the LEZ.

What are Low Emission Zones (LEZs)?

As their name suggests, Low Emission Zones are particular areas of a town or city where the local authority is trying to improve air quality by restricting vehicles from entering that do not comply with the latest emissions standards. These are monitored by ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Where are the Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in Scotland?

The Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in Scotland are in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. They were all launched in 2022 with a grace period of up to two years before charges would be enforced to give people plenty of notice if they need to change their car or investigate alternative transport options.

Aberdeen

The LEZ in Aberdeen starts issuing penalties for non-compliant vehicles from Saturday 1 June 2024. It covers an area in the centre of the city on either side of Union Street. It is possible to reach the ferry terminal without entering the LEZ.

A detailed list of all streets and an interactive map are available at Aberdeen City Council website.

Aberdeen Low Emission Zone Map

Dundee

Dundee starts enforcing its LEZ from 30 May 2024, a day earlier than Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

The Dundee LEZ covers an area within the A991 inner ring road, excluding the Bell Street, West Marketgait NCP and Wellgate car parks. For more details, visit Dundee City website.

Dundee Low Emission Zone Map

Edinburgh

The LEZ in Edinburgh starts issuing penalties for non-compliant vehicles from 1 June 2024.

The LEZ boundary circles Edinburgh city centre from:

  • Tollcross in the south
  • to Palmerston Place in the west
  • along Queen Street in the New Town
  • to Picardy Place
  • around Abbeyhill and onto Holyrood Road
  • along the Pleasance in the east
  • before heading back along the Meadows to Tollcross

Further details are available from City of Edinburgh Council website.

Glasgow

Glasgow started enforcing its LEZ for visitors in 2023, but from 1 June 2024, its residents will also have to conform.

The Glasgow LEZ covers an area of approximately one square mile of the city centre within the boundary of the M8 motorway to the north and west, the River Clyde to the south and Saltmarket/High Street to the east. The M8 motorway is not included in the Glasgow LEZ.

Glasgow Low Emission Zone Map

For more details, and to check if your car is compliant take a look at our Glasgow LEZ checker.

What vehicles are permitted in Scotland’s LEZs?

Currently, the minimum required emissions standards are the same across LEZs and CAZs, which are:

  • Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans (usually registered from 2006)
  • Euro 6 for diesel cars and vans (usually registered from September 2015
  • Euro VI for buses, coaches and HGVs (usually registered from January 2013

Scotland introduced a Low Emission Zone Support Fund providing cash grants of £2,000 to encourage people to switch to a compliant vehicle and dispose of non-LEZ compliant ones, however, the funding closed and it is not known if or when it will return. There is a LEZ Retrofit Fund available to microbusinesses and sole traders within a 20km radius of each Scottish city for the 2024/2025 financial year. For the latest details visit the Low Emission Zone Scotland website.

How much is the penalty charge for Scotland’s LEZs?

Penalty charges start from £60 for the first incident (reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days) and quickly double up to a total of £960 if four offences occur within 90 days.

What vehicles are exempt from LEZs requirement?

There are a limited number of vehicles that are exempt from having to comply. These can vary between local authorities, but usually include:

  • Motorbikes and mopeds
  • Emergency services vehicles
  • Military vehicles
  • Vehicles of historic interest (typically at least 30 years old)
  • Blue badge holders
  • Blue badge exemptions when a blue badge holder is travelling in the car
  • Showman vehicles

As all fully electric vehicles comply, they do not have to pay, but note that hybrid cars are still based on their emissions.

Scotland’s Low Emission Zones (LEZs) FAQs

Do LEZs ban vehicles from city centres?

LEZs don’t actually ban vehicles from city centres but do issue Penalty Charge Notices to vehicles that do not comply with the latest exhaust emission standards (Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans, and Euro 6 for diesel cars and vans).

Can I pre-pay or register to enter a LEZ?

Unlike Clean Air Zones or the Ultra Low Emissions Zone in London, you cannot pre-pay to drive into a LEZ in Scotland.

How to pay the LEZ charge?

You cannot pay the LEZ charge in advance. If you drive a vehicle into a LEZ in Scotland that is not compliant with the exhaust emissions standard, you will receive a Penalty Charge Notice. This will include details on how to pay the fine.

What happens if I don’t pay the LEZ charge?

ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras monitor every vehicle entering the LEZ and check its details against DVLA records. If this shows the vehicle is non-compliant with the correct exhaust emissions standard, a PCN (Parking Charge Notice) is automatically issued to the registered keeper as well as any further correspondence if the fine is not paid within the required time limit.

You are required to pay the PCN LEZ charge within 28 days. If you pay the fine within 14 days of the date it was served you get a 50% discount. If you do not pay within 28 days, a charge certificate is issued and the PCN penalty charge amount increases by 50%. If the increased charge is not paid within 14 days, the charge becomes an enforceable debt and payment from the vehicle owner will be pursued through legal proceedings.

If you want to appeal against a PCN, there is a formal appeals process through section 8 of the Low Emission Zones (Emissions Standards Exemption and Penalty Charges) (Scotland) Regulations 2021. This must be done within 28 days from the date the PCN was issued. Any appeal after the 28 days may be rejected.

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