Low Emission Zones – what you need to know
Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are areas within a city where strict rules are in place to reduce toxic air pollution caused by vehicles. While all vehicles are still allowed in LEZs, those that don’t meet the strict emissions standards have to pay a daily fee once they enter the area. These fees differ for each city with a low emission zone.
What is an Ultra Low Emission Zone?
An Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) falls within the borders of a Low Emission Zone and is an area where even stricter rules apply. While vehicles that enter the ULEZ need to pay both the LEZ and ULEZ charge, lorries, vans, and specialist heavy vehicles over 3.5 tonnes do not have to pay the ULEZ charge. However, they will still need to pay the LEZ charge if they do not meet the LEZ emissions standard. Currently, the only ULEZ in the UK is in London, expanded to cover the inner London area within the North and South Circular roads in October 2021.
LEZ and ULEZ charges are based on Euro emission standards (more on that below).
Why were LEZs introduced?
The aim of LEZs is to improve public health by improving the air quality within city centres. The LEZs also help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, by encouraging owners and drivers to switch to more environment-friendly vehicles. The main target of the LEZs are old, heavy diesel vehicles, including buses, lorries, coaches, and other specialist vehicles.
What are the LEZ standards?
The LEZ standards are based on European emission standards. The standards apply to all vehicles made since 1993, and all those that have been sold in the UK since the introduction of the standards. Below is a list of when each Euro standard was introduced. The first standard, Euro 1, was set in 1992 and since then, there have been several updates to the regulations to restrict harmful pollutants, and currently the standards are on Euro 6.
Euro 1: 31 December 1992
Euro 2: 1 January 1997
Euro 3: 1 January 2001
Euro 4: 1 January 2006
Euro 5: 1 January 2011
Euro 6: 1 September 2015
Usually, it’s possible to determine a vehicle’s Euro standard from its age, but there are some other factors too. You can ask the manufacturer of your vehicle, but for some newer vehicles, the Euro emission standard may be listed in section D.2 of your vehicle log book (V5C).
Where are LEZs and how do they affect transport operators?
There are multiple active LEZs and CAZs (Clean Air Zones) in the UK, and more are planned. Let’s look at the LEZ/CAZ rules for a few larger cities, and some of the potential charges that might be payable. The most well-known and strictest of all the LEZs, are the London LEZ and ULEZ. The LEZ and ULEZ charges are payable on top of the congestion charge (area highlighted in red below).
• Euro 6-compliant vehicles: No charge
• Euro 4/5-compliant vehicles: £100.00 daily charge
• Vehicles not Euro 4-compliant: £300.00 daily charge
Map: Transport for London
Lorries, vans, and specialist heavy vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes don’t have to pay the ULEZ charge, but if they don’t comply with the LEZ emissions standard, they will have to pay the LEZ charge.
Image: Transport for London
Introduced in March 2021, the Bath CAZ aims to reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in the air in the city. Charge in the Bath CAZ are:
Trucks and lorries (HGVs):
• Euro I to V diesel: £100
• Euro 1 to 3 petrol (or earlier): £100
Image: Bath Newseum
While already approved in 2019, Birmingham’s CAZ only came into effect in June 2021, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Charges apply as follows:
• Euro 6 HGV: No charge.
• Euro 5 and earlier HGV: £50 per day
Image: Birmingham Mail
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee
While current LEZ rules only apply to buses, all vehicles entering the Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and LEZs from 1 June 2023 will have to comply with the standard. LEZ standards have been set at a national level in Scotland. This will make it much easier for drivers and transport operators to understand any charges.
The Scottish LEZ standards are:
• Euro 4 for petrol HGVs
• Euro 6 for diesel HGVs
Penalty charges for non-compliant vehicles entering a Scottish LEZ are also set at national level by the Scottish Government. A surcharge will be added if the vehicle enters the zone again within 90 days. Penalties for all vehicles start at £60 but are reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days. Penalties for HGVs are capped at £960.
Image: Daily Record
The Expansion of LEZs/CAZs and the introduction of ZEZs
More LEZs and CAZs are planned for cities across the UK. In February 2022, Oxford became the first city in the UK to introduce a Zero Emission Zone, with a £10 charge for vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 (Petrol) or Euro 6 (Diesel) standards.
Easier LEZ reporting with Mandata’s software
If you are using Mandata’s tracking and telematics software, you can make use of a selection of Low Emission Zone alerts available in Maps for reporting purposes. These alerts allow you to monitor when your vehicles enter and leave one of these zones if you have set up geofence rules against each Low Emission Zone for the vehicles you want to monitor. The system can be set up to trigger an email or retrospectively report on vehicles that have entered and left the zones.
Currently, alerts are available for these zones:
• London Congestion Charge
• London Low Emission Zone
• London Ultra Low Emission Zone
• Birmingham Low Emission Zone
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